Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX), a Tea party candidate who has vowed to challenge Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn in the Texas primary on March 4 has mysteriously dropped off the map. He has not made a public appearance since he announced his intention to unseat Cornyn and since January 9 he has not been showing up for work in the House either.
Stockman is well-known as a maverick, playing by his own rules but he seldom misses an important vote, so far this month he has missed 17 straight votes including the one on the $1.1 trillion omnibus federal spending bill, one that he had vowed on Twitter to vote against.
The disappearance is unsettling for conservative activists who had counted on him to strike another blow against the GOP establishment with his challenge to Cornyn who he has characterized as too liberal with statements like, “my opponent just announced he’s introducing a bill making Obama’s lifetime gun ban scheme permanent federal law,” and “Cornyn loves ObamaCare.”
The far right fringe had high hopes for him since Texas has been receptive to the extreme positions taken by other Tea party favorites like Ted Cruz, and this sudden MIA act has them scratching their heads, along with a lot of other people.
William Murray, chairman of the Washington-based Government is Not God PAC said, “He thought he was another Ted Cruz and he isn’t.” Murray’s PAC had supported Stockman’s campaigns in the 90s and again in 2012 but has now thrown its support to Cornyn.
Stockman was once a homeless college dropout who found Jesus and became a far right activist who lists his occupation as “Constitutionalist.” He served one term in Congress from 1995-1997 before being defeated in his reelection bid by Democrat David Lampson. He returned to Congress in 2013 and for the last year has called for almost total deregulation of industry, calling the EPA a blockade on American jobs.
He has been the focus of a lot of attention in the House with his over the top rhetoric and has often called for the removal from office of the President, once hand-delivering copies of “Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office” to all 435 House members.
The only positive recent sighting of the Congressman was on a two-day junket to Egypt as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Congressman’s staff refuse to say where he is and more than six weeks of phone, email and social media inquiries from the Associated Press and other news services have been ignored.
Of course Congressmen miss votes all the time and those who are campaigning miss more than others, but this is not the usual scenario in such situations, this time there seems to be no sign of him, he has not been campaigning although he has only 5 1/2 weeks until the primary.
Since announcing his intent to challenge Cornyn, Stockman has made only one major appearance in Texas, that was at a North Dallas church on January 14, where he delivered his message that Cornyn is just too liberal to a group of about 50 Tea party activists. He later skipped a larger Tea Party engagement that he had scheduled in Bedford, near Fort Worth.
A board member of the Clear Lake Tea Party in his home district, Dale Huls, says that the Congressman has been gathering support from conservative groups quietly for some time but admits that his campaign has been “a little chaotic.”
“I would expect a more transparent staff to citizens and tea party groups,” Huls also said.
Stockman does have more pressing problems than his lack of visibility. He reports that he has only $32,000 on hand with $163,000 in outstanding debts. The Cornyn campaign on the other hand is flush with a war chest of $7 million.
The Congressman is losing support among other conservative groups as well. Murray, of the Government is Not God PAC, says that he was furious when he received call soliciting support for Stockman because he is throwing away his Congressional seat and that he “dressed them down pretty good.”
The Club for Growth has turned its back on Stockman as well, a costly loss to him, they spent $5.5 million to help Ted Cruz win his victory over Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the 2012 Senate primary for the Republican nomination.
Stockman still has some supporters who believe that he can rally and come from behind to defeat Cornyn. “I know that Steve has gotten hit from multiple sides,” said Larry Ward political director of the Revolution PAC in Washington, “but that wouldn’t be happening if he weren’t a serious threat.”
h/t: Huffington Post