Steve Stockman challenges John Cornyn

The Texas Tribune reports that Congressman Steve Stockman, an extremely controversial and archconservative Republican, will challenge US Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Republican primary. Thus far, Cornyn has largely avoided formidable Republican opposition, but a challenge from high-profile Stockman could prove to be lethal to his political career.

Rumor has it that Stockman was gearing up for a brutish primary fight against a more establishment Republican. The scandal plagued Stockman has become a folk-hero among those in the far-right, while Cornyn has been accused as an insincere Republican for allegedly not supporting Ted Cruz enough. In fact, Cruz pointedly declined to endorse Cornyn’s re-election. In Stockman’s soon-to-be former Congressional district (the 36th), John Amdur and Phil Fitzgerald have become last-minute contenders to succeed the Congressman.

Stockman originally announced his intentions in an exclusive interview with WND. In announcing his candidacy, he said “We are extremely disappointed in the way [Cornyn] treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined (Sen.) Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare. And now, it looks like Cruz was right and Cornyn was wrong. He (Cornyn) sided with the president, essentially, in making sure Obamacare became law while Cruz did everything possible to stop it.”

Click here to read more!

Default averted

The New York Times reports that a last minute deal has been reached to reopen the Federal Government (following a shutdown that began at the start of the month) and avert a National Default. The bill, which largely mirrored negotiations occurring in the Senate recently, passed the upper chamber in the early evening, before the House passed the bill around 10 o’clock. President Obama then signed the bill just before a possible default.

The bill both suspends the debt ceiling through February and funds the government through January. Additionally, a bicameral, bipartisan budget conference committee will meet starting in December. Back pay is also included for all furloughed Federal workers. All Democratic conditions. Finally, as a token gesture to Republicans, a mere study  will be made to ensure stronger income verification in Obamacare. That little detail is so insignificant that the Times article did not even bother to mention it.

I will be the first to say I am humbled by the leadership and audacity President Obama showed throughout this crisis. For the first time in his presidency, he held strong to his principles and did not bend an inch. And, I must admit, it worked out somewhat well for him. The Republican Party is in shambles, though history reminds us it reassembles somewhat easily.

Click here to read more about the local implications of this deal!

Pot poll in Texas

The Houston Chronicle reports on a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, arguably this country’s most accurate pollster, that shows surprising views from Texans on issues of marijuana legalization. A strong majority of Texans not only supported medicinal and decriminalization reforms, but full, untethered legalization of the drug. Full poll results here.

1. Medicinal Marijuana
58% Support
31% Oppose

2. Decriminalization of <1 ounze
61% Support
30% Oppose

3. Full Legalization
58% Support
38% Oppose

It is worth noting that the legalization question mentioned certain burdens, such as taxes, restrictions to licensed stores and an age limit of 21. The question essentially asked Texans to follow in the paths of Colorado and Washington, and Texans were supportive.

Click here to read more, including one Congressman’s surprise reversal

In re CISPA

This is a few days old–oh well. On Thursday, the US House voted 288-127 to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, also known as CISPA. The bill is more or less an even worse version of SOPA/PIPA. Most of my readers are in that small niche demographic who grew up their entire lives surrounded by technology, so, us Millennials by and large opposes any effort to have the government intrude into our personal lives on the internet.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same of the octogenarians who dominate the halls of Congress (ok, they aren’t THAT old, but I couldn’t help to take a cheap shot at LaTourette), specifically from this great State. Of the eight or so Congressmembers who arguably represent part of Houston, Jackson Lee and Stockman were the only Representatives to oppose this Orwellian measure.

I wouldn’t expect any less from Gene Green but to support this crooked legislation, but I was deeply disappointed to see Al Green support the measure. Jackson Lee has always been a good liberal bastion, sometimes being one of the only Texas Democrats to vote against both DOMA and the PATRIOT ACT. It was refreshing, however, to see some of the other TXDEMs who voted nay. First and foremost, Lloyd Doggett, who has a sad history of voting for both DOMA and the PATRIOT ACT, voted against CISPA. Good for him.

Next, I was happy to see the young voting against this bill. Both Joaquin Castro and Beto O’Rourke, youngens with obvious high officer ambitions, voted against the act.

Again, not much of a point to make here, no commentary on the bill itself (you can tell my personal feelings), just wanted to emphasis how few of our Reps are from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

White leads possible challengers against Cornyn

Public Policy Polling, the Democratic-aligned polling firm that has been notoriously accurate recently, has put out a new report on the state of the 2014 Senate election in Texas. Senator John Cornyn leads his four hypothetical opponents: Julian Castro, Wendy Davis, Annise Parker, and Bill White by good margins. The poll showed that Cornyn is not popular nor unpopular, but still relatively unknown, although Texas is still a solidly Republican state. I’m going to break down the results below.

Obama approval rating–47% (approve) to 51% (disapprove)
Cornyn approval rating–34% (approve) to 30% (disapprove)
Castro approval rating–29% (approve) to 24% (disapprove)
Davis approval rating–15% (approve) to 19% (disapprove)
Parker approval rating–16% (approve) to 17% (disapprove)
White approval rating–34% (approve) to 24% (disapprove)
NRA approval rating–46% (approve) to 40% (disapprove)
Obama impeachment approval–39% (pro-impeach) to 50% (anti-impeach)
Obama or NRA: trust in re guns–43% (Obama) to 47% (NRA)
Banning assault weapons–49% (support) to 41% (oppose)
Police officers in schools–47% (support) to 39% (oppose)
Arming teachers–31% (support) to 56% (oppose)

Cornyn vs. Castro–48% (Cornyn) to 41% (Castro)
Cornyn vs. Davis–48% (Cornyn) to 37% (Davis)
Cornyn vs. Parker–47% (Cornyn) to 36% (Parker)
Cornyn vs. White–45% (Cornyn) to 42% (White)

How it is possible that a majority of Texans support the President’s gun control measures, yet almost 40% support his impeachment (for what?), I will never know. Otherwise, it seems the President’s approval ratings have seen a bounce in Texas for his second inauguration.

I have a few comments about this poll. First, it seems sad that, in all likelihood, none of the Democrats mentioned will run. Second, 2014 is still a LONG ways out, and I seem to recall 2009 polls once upon a time that said Rick Perry was dead in the water. But that’s a whole other story. Third, this poll didn’t seem to measure what I am truly curious about: the GOP primary for the seat (because, in all honesty, that is the only possible way the seat would change hands next year).

Castro has already disavowed any 2014 plans, plain and simple. Davis will be doing something else next year: running for re-election. Parker, as I discussed a million years ago, would most likely not bother with a Statewide, and it is, in my opinion, far more feasible for her to run for Congress. White has been hiding under a cave or something for the last three years, so he is sort of a non-starter in the discussion.

Also, these things are a ways off, and thus, through no fault of the polling house, are unreliable. I recall a 2011 PPP poll which had Cruz trailing, and a June 2010 PPP poll had White & Perry tied. Twenty-two months is an eternity in politics, so a lot will change.

Finally, I was disappointed by how the Republican primary was not discussed. Just as how Cruz came out of nowhere to snatch up a nomination that was, in the eyes of the establishment, Dewhurst’s for the taking, I would not be surprised if a Tea Party like challenged Cornyn in the spring next year. Personally, I’d love to see John Cornyn have to battle someone as reality impaired in a primary as Steve Stockman, but he would make Senator Cruz look sane if he won.

Bottom line, the Democrats need to find a candidate for the Senate. I nominate Tommy Lee Jones. Seriously.

Jack Brooks, 1922-2012

Jack Brooks, the former Beaumont-area congressman, passed away yesterday at the age of 89. The New York Times presented quite an obituary for the late politician. First being elected to the Texas House in 1948, he served for two terms before being elected to the US House of Representatives in 1952. He served for forty-two years, twenty-one terms in all, before being defeated for re-election in the 1994 sweep by Steve Stockman, the former one-term Congressman who was just sent back this year.

Brooks was one of the most liberal members of a southern delegation, a big protege of other Texas liberals like Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, and Ralph Yarborough. A big supporter of the Civil Rights Act and Great Society/New Frontier legislation, he was also present in the motorcade when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Brooks was given universal praise today after word of his death came out, from both sides of the political aisle. He was one of the good ones and he will be missed.