Despite tea party leaders wanting a strong candidate to challenge Texas Sen. John Cornyn, he doesn’t have a serious primary opponent.
Politico reports today that Cornyn probably doesn’t have much to worry about in 2014. Still, his campaign has launched its first television ads.
“I would like to think it’s because I’ve done a good job and people believe my record fits what you’d expect of a Texas senator,” Cornyn told Politico. “That’s why we’re doing a little bit of advertising now, to remind people what that record is.”
“I am irritated as all get-out with him,” Toby Marie Walker, president of the Waco Tea Party, told Politico. But, she added, “we’ll see if we have a choice. Filing doesn’t close until December, but he may not have a challenger.”
Last week, KERA’s Shelley Kofler reported that at the Texas Tribune Festival, five of six tea party leaders who were polled said they wanted a strong candidate to challenge Cornyn in the Republican primary.
Included in that group were former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, who now heads We Texans a limited government group; Northeast Tarrant County Tea Party President Julie McCarty; and Republican state representatives Matt Krause from Fort Worth and Jonathan Stickland from Bedford.
The fifth and most vocal critic was JoAnn Fleming. Her email list for Grassroots America reaches tens of thousands of tea party activists across the state. She’s also the liaison between state tea party groups and the legislature.
“I believe that Sen. Cornyn has never been more vulnerable,” Fleming said. “If a credible candidate comes forward who can raise money, Sen. Cornyn will have a race on his hands.”
In the eyes of tea partiers, Cornyn is an emblem of the D.C. establishment, a top member of Republican leadership as Senate minority whip and a recent two-term head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
But Cornyn is also generally regarded as a conservative even by Texas’s high standards. Tea party leaders paying careful attention were miffed at Cornyn in the past over his votes in support of policies like the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the fiscal cliff deal. But that grumbling had remained at a low simmer — until the most recent spending showdown, when he broke with the state’s junior senator, Ted Cruz, on a procedural vote on a spending bill in which language over the health care law was a key sticking point.
That choice was billed by some conservatives as akin to supporting Obamacare, though Cornyn is vehemently opposed to the law. …
Yet the newfound rage some in the grass roots are aiming at their senior senator may be coming too late. Compared with several other places in which incumbent Republican senators are facing varying degrees of serious tea party challenges — McConnell in Kentucky, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, Mike Enzi in Wyoming — Texas is a massive and astronomically expensive state in which to run a campaign.