Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday expressed confidence he’ll be the Republican Party’s nominee despite a last-minute challenge by Congressman Steve Stockman.
Stockman, the tea party Republican from the Houston area, surprised just about everyone in filing to run against Cornyn.
In a conference call with reporters, Cornyn was nearly dismissive of Stockman’s challenge.
“While Mr. Stockman is a fascinating person, there’s no guarantee he’s going to be competitive in the primaries,” Cornyn said.
Stockman, 57, is a rigid Second Amendment and limited government crusader who was elected to his current House District 36 seat with tea party support.
While Cornyn is a conservative, Stockman accuses him of being too liberal.
"I'm going to be myself"
Some tea party critics say they’ve targeted Cornyn become he’s become part of the Washington establishment.
Cornyn says he believes the criticism results from a misunderstanding of his record. He said his style may be part of that. He didn’t mention Ted Cruz, Texas' junior senator, by name or Cruz’s confrontational approach, which tea party activists applaud.
“There is a perception of people based on their temperament and the way they operate," Cornyn said. "Some people have a different style and that’s fine. But I’m going to be myself."
"Sick and tired of senators"
Cornyn’s response to media questions came on the same day budget negotiators announced a bipartisan agreement to keep the federal government open beyond January.
When the budget stalemate shut down the government in October, Stockman did an interview with conservative commentator Floyd Brown and blamed "spineless" senators who didn’t stick to their guns on cutting Obamacare spending.
“The Republicans in the Senate just laid over and kept talking about what is the end game," Stockman told Brown in October. "The end game is freedom. The end game is preserving this nation. And I got sick and tired of the senators looking down on the House as a bunch of fools and ignoring us."
"Heading in the wrong direction"
Since filing to run for the Senate, Stockman hasn't responded to questions from KERA. But he said on his website that he won’t vote for the current two-year deal that would cut federal spending, but not as much as the mandated cuts already in place.
Cornyn also said he’s concerned about federal government spending.
"I see this as heading in the wrong direction because I think one of the most important things we need to do in Washington is to reign in wasteful spending and reform important safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security and this does none of that,” Cornyn said.
When asked whether he’ll oppose the budget agreement, Cornyn said he’s still studying it. A spokesperson said he’s also waiting to see what happens in the House.