There is a lot of chatter these days among tea partiers in Texas about who should run against John Cornyn in the 2014 Senate primary. Despite a conservative voting record, Cornyn is being targeted by the tea party set because he is perceived to be soft on Obamacare, immigration, taxes and the national debt. As I reported on Monday, David Barton has been asked by some tea party folks to consider a challenge to Cornyn. The spin is that Barton has party experience, broad name recognition, and, probably with Glenn Beck’s help, could access adequate funds for a Senate campaign.
Without Barton in the mix, Cornyn seems safe. Cornyn’s current challengers probably could not mount a significant campaign to unseat Cornyn. Thus far, those challengers include attorney Linda Vega, Erick Wyatt and Dwayne Stovall. Vega got into the race last week and is known as an immigration activist. Her main themes appear to be immigration reform and outreach to the Latino community. Except perhaps on immigration, she sounds all the right tea party notes.
Wyatt is a veteran of the Iraq War and sounds familiar tea party themes of small government and overturning Obamacare but is newcomer to politics. Also a novice, Stovall also appeals to tea partiers with a twist — he spoke at the 2013 annual meeting of the Texas League of the South. The TX League website described his speech as follows:
The second speaker was Dwayne Stovall, who shared his experiences from the recent election where he ran for office. He also elaborated on trends he is seeing in other groups as well, noting that all major groups in Texas have positions on the secession issue, with the major difference being the time tables they are considering.
He also elaborated on the recent legislative session in the Texas Legislature noting the bills and concerns of interest to achieving local sovereignty. A matter which he brought up worth noting is the amount of debt owed by Texas along with the source of that debt, which consists mainly of school districts and municipal bonds.
Stovall is VP of the Houston chapter of the Refounding Father Society. The society seems to have much in common with the League of the South, especially a preoccupation with nullification and interposition. The society’s website refers visitors to Mike Church’s Founder’s Library. Church is a radio talk show host who shares at least some common ground with the League (e.g., dislike of Lincoln, promotion of secession and nullification). Stovall might appeal to the far, far right but could be too extreme for the GOP, even in TX.
If these three are the only challengers, the Senate seat seems safe for Cornyn. However, I suspect the situation would change if Barton gets into the race.
Barton’s name recognition would swamp the other three challengers and soon involve the national media. A Barton v. Cornyn confrontation would place additional focus on the current GOP Civil War. Barton’s supporters would invoke memories of Ted Cruz’s improbable victory over an establishment candidate in Texas with Barton cast as Cruz’s ally. Given Barton’s early support for Cruz, I suspect Cruz would endorse Barton. Cornyn would have a boatload of opposition research to use but Barton’s followers seem immune to such things. All of this is probably enough to cause major heartburn among the GOP establishment in Texas.
UPDATE: National Review Online is on the case and confirms that Barton is considering a run against Cornyn. Barton’s partner at Wallbuilders, Rick Green told NRO:
More than 1,000 (zero exaggeration, that is an actual number) tea party and republican party leaders have asked David Barton to run. Polling says Sen. Cornyn is vulnerable and that’s why he is running ads right now. Like America’s Founding Fathers, David Barton will not “seek” this office, but if the people of Texas speak loud enough in the next few days, he could most certainly be drafted in by the voters.
A look at the membership of the Facebook group dedicated to drafting Barton reveals that many of Barton’s family are also a part of the effort. Barton himself is a member of the group and Green’s wife is actively adding members to the group. Julie McCarty, tea party leader mentioned in the NRO article, has mounted a vigorous defense of Barton on her Facebook page.
The blog Opposing Views has also covered the possibility of a Barton Senate run.