A Farewell To Crazy: What Went Wrong For Steve Stockman

Stockman wave

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

One of the strangest, least effective campaigns in recent memory came to an ignominious end on Tuesday night, when U.S. Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) lost his primary challenge to Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) by a resounding 40 percent margin.

Stockman’s failure was not hard to predict; in fact, when Stockman launched his campaign in December, The National Memo declared that “the extreme-right-wing congressman may finally be a candidate who’s too far on the fringe for even the Tea Party,” and provided four reasons that Stockman had no chance to be the next senator from Texas. Our predictions were almost 100 percent accurate.

So as Senator Cornyn prepares for the possibility of facing another thoroughly unserious opponent — the Democratic nominee will be decided by a May 27 runoff between millionaire dental mogul David Alameel and Lyndon LaRouche-disciple Kesha Rogers, who recently compared the president to Hitler — take a look back at what went wrong for his last challenger.

Here’s how Steve Stockman’s absurd Senate bid fell apart:

He Has A Long History Of Legal Trouble

Steve Stockman 427x321

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

What we wrote in December: “A youthful run-in with the law does not automatically disqualify a candidate from higher office, but it could be a bigger issue for Stockman given that he hopes to run as a social conservative — and given that he is still having legal problems over three decades later.”

What happened: Stockman’s legal problems went on to dominate coverage of his campaign. Among other incidents, Stockman was accused of campaign finance violations, had one of his campaign offices condemned for failing numerous safety violations, and threatened media outlets that reported on his well-known brushes with law in the 1970s.

The controversies made an impact on at least one Tea Party group, which shortly before Election Day blasted Stockman as “unethical” and lacking integrity.

He Says Crazy Things

Steve Stockman3

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

We wrote: “Until he announced his challenge to Cornyn, Stockman was best known as the most outrageous, unstable member of a caucus that could be most charitably described as ‘eccentric.'”

What happened: Stockman didn’t disappoint in this regard. Throughout his campaign, the congressman:

    • Labeled “liberal tears” as “the best gun lubricant around”
    • Hawked “Obama barf bags” on his website to help “take back our country from the creeping advance of socialism”
    • Faked endorsements from at least seven conservatives, including one who died seven months before Stockman announced his campaign
    • Launched his campaign by warning that “you are in a foxhole fighting to save our constitutional Republic, and the last thing you need is a Republican bayonet in your back. But that’s what liberal John Cornyn has been doing to you every day”

And that’s just in the last three months.

Stockman’s outrageous rhetoric may not have been the deciding factor in his 40-point loss, but it certainly didn’t help him present himself as a plausible alternative to the Senate minority whip.

He Supports Crazy Policies

Steve Stockman2

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

We wrote:“Stockman’s actual policy positions are almost as far out as his rhetoric,” and are “far outside of the mainstream, even in Texas.”

What happened: Although he launched his campaign by bragging about his past support for legislation that would “automatically overturn Roe v. Wade” and “block and nullify all anti-gun UN treaties,” Stockman’s wacky platform actually didn’t turn out to be much of a problem for him.

Unfortunately, this is because he didn’t end up talking about policy, at all. In addition to doggedly avoiding the press throughout his time in the race, at one point he literally disappeared from public view for nearly two weeks, missing 17 votes in the House.

The disappearance — which was emblematic of Stockman’s broader refusal to debate the issues anywhere aside from Twitter — helped lead the aforementioned Tea Party group to label his Senate bid as “what might be the laziest statewide campaign to date.”

“The media salted your staff with questions, but these questions were sneered at and rebuffed,” the Tea Party activists wrote to Stockman in an open letter. “Based on your response to media inquiries, you apparently believe you don’t have to answer to anybody.”

He Doesn’t Have Any Money

Money 427x321

Photo: “kaje_yomama” via Flickr

We wrote: “Perhaps because the factors above make it hard for donors to take him seriously, Stockman is entering the campaign at a tremendous financial disadvantage. Stockman has just $32,000 in cash on hand, less than 5 percent of Cornyn’s $7 million war chest. Worse yet, Stockman also has $163,000 in debt.”

What happened: This turned out to be Stockman’s biggest impediment to pulling an upset (or at least forcing Cornyn into a runoff). Even if Stockman were running a serious campaign, it likely wouldn’t have mattered due to Cornyn’s massive spending advantage. Throughout the primary campaign, Cornyn raised nearly $13 million and spent more than $8 million. By contrast, Stockman raised just $250,033, and spent $221,685 — leaving him with just $32,027 to retire his debts.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Why Nobody Can Slut-Shame Boebert And Greene: They're 'Gun Chicks'

Rep. Lauren Boebert

After Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO) disgraced herself at a Denver performance of the musical “Beetlejuice” last week by (among other things) going to third base with her date, here were three trends on X (the App Formerly Known As Twitter.) The first was the kind of name-calling you expect about any woman who is openly sexual in public: slut, skank, bimbo, whore—you choose a word for it, Boebert’s foes used it to call her out.

Keep reading...Show less
Kevin McCarthy

Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suffered yet another loss on Thursday, one that no speaker should ever experience. Five of his Republican colleagues rebelled against sending the defense appropriations bill to the floor, and blocked it. Again. These things aren’t supposed to happen in the House. Speakers don’t put a bill on the floor when they don’t have the votes locked up. A controlling bloc of the majority doesn’t vote against leadership. Republicans don’t vote against defense spending.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}