Will John Cornyn get a primary challenger?
There is a now a chance that John Cornyn is not a senator in 2015. While Ted Cruz led the fight against ObamaCare, John Cornyn was busy chatting up a Politico reporter. The level of disappointment and anger among opinion leaders in the conservative grassroots is off-the-charts.
I don't mean to suggest that Cornyn is likely to be defeated. Far from it. There isn't an obvious challenger with credibility who could raise enough money. There aren't that many months left before primary day. But for the first time, it is a possibility.
John Cornyn is the consummate insider. Karl Rove picked him to take over Phil Gramm's seat, and then cleared the field of serious challengers. He carried the legislation that no one else wanted to during W's time in office. He headed the NRSC -- not very well, if we're being honest -- and used that as a springboard to leadership.
Cornyn won't be caught by surprise. He's hired FreedomWorks staffers for his campaign. He's sending out "John Cornyn: Conservative" bumper stickers with letters from George Strake. For awhile he was matching Cruz vote-for-vote in ways that were uncharacteristic for him (eg John Kerry's nomination to Foggy Bottom).
If you talk to conservative activists, there is a palpable level of anger over Cornyn's stance on ObamaCare. Even if it is just a tactical difference, Republicans want leaders who will stand and fight ObamaCare on every single field of battle. Cornyn didn't. And many have not forgotten how Cornyn voted for some of the bailouts like TARP.
Who could challenge John Cornyn?
Lawrence Person suggested Louie Gohmert, Mike McCaul and Don Willett to challenge Cornyn. Others have suggested Dewhurst, which is laughable since his record is to the left of Cornyn's. Gohmert and Willett seem unlikely to run.
McCaul has the money -- and voted against TARP -- but opted out of a 2012 run. Conventional wisdom would have said that the 2012 open seat is easier, so I rather doubt that he risks his US House seniority on the race. Here's a couple of names I've heard:
Jonathan Stickland. The freshman Texas House member wasted no time criticizing Cornyn for not fighting ObamaCare. He's from vote-rich DFW, has tea party connections, led conservatives in the last session, and is a great retail politician. He'd find it tough to raise the money, but to make this race you've got to have talent. He appears to have it.
Michael Quinn Sullivan. Who else has the same credibility with the grassroots that he does? He is known for being vocal about standing and fighting for conservative principles -- which is exactly the theme that any Cornyn challenger would have to play with note-for-note perfection. I have heard rumors of a Draft MQS campaign, although I remain skeptical that he would run.
George P Bush. Given that he's taken the extremely risk-averse step of running for land commissioner, it is unlikely that he would run. Still, he could raise the money and potentially run to Cornyn's right. I see zero chance of it happening, but if it did his chances as an early Ted Cruz endorser would be decent.
I've also heard rumors of leaders from various tea parties running. And unlike Erick Erickson's post on RedState, I do not think Rafael Cruz is going to run. Who knows -- maybe Steve Mostyn will decide to bankroll a Debra Medina run?*
We're still a long way from primary and runoff day. Some of the ire against Cornyn for his stance on defunding ObamaCare will dissipate by then. If anyone credible makes the race, they'll have to run a near-perfect campaign. They'll pick up the illegal immigration hardliners that have long been skeptical of Cornyn and people mad about how Cornyn supported TARP, but then they have to show why they'll be better at leading the fight against ObamaCare. That's not easy, but then again: nothing unites conservative, moderate and libertarian Republicans like fighting ObamaCare...and right now Cornyn is on the wrong side of the issue.
* Probably not, of course, because Mostyn stands to profit from passing bills in the legislature that allow him to make windfall profits. Not so much in the US Senate.
I sure hope someone runs. Cornyn deserves to have to defend his seat. Times have changed and Cornyn is showing himself to be untrustworthy. And we can primary him with a good candidate, it will scare the rest of the GOP in DC...as it should.
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