Last night, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) lost his primary campaign against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in catastrophic fashion. Stockman only accumulated 19 percent of the vote to Cornyn's 58 percent (as of this writing). We knew this would happen from the beginning, especially after the first poll that emerged showed a 44 point deficit for the wacky congressman and well-known Twitter troll. Furthermore, he was at a significant financial disadvantage with (try not to laugh) only $32,000 in his war chest at the beginning of the campaign, compared to $7 million for Cornyn. And it didn't get much better throughout the rest of the too-short primary cycle.
But here's the thing: a lot of people, including me, are beginning to question whether Stockman was actually running. The evidence points to no, he wasn't. Instead, he could very well have been just pretending to run in order to grab as much cash before leaving office next January. By the way, no, he's not running for re-election in November. And, yes, members of Congress can use whatever campaign cash is left over when they step down to establish foundations in their own name, or to donate to charities or they can simply keep the money handy for when and if they decide to run again.
The Daily Beast's Ben Jacobs reported yesterday:
[I]t’s the worst kind of grift that is designed to separate gullible donors from their money and put it in his campaign’s coffers. There is not even the pretense of actual interaction with voters. Tea Party leaders have complained that Stockman has not shown up to any events. One Texas Tea Party activist noted in an epic understatement: “Day to day, just getting hold of him, that’s just not Steve, I guess.” Instead, the Stockman campaign simply sends blast emails to potential donors and tweets a lot.
Okay, so what do you call a campaign in which the campaigner never campaigns? A scam, obviously.
It sounds like Team Stockman tried run a campaign in which they raised as much money as they could while spending as little as possible. Traveling to statewide events in Texas costs money. Having a campaign headquarters that doesn't look like Buffalo Bill's creepy dungeon in "Silence of the Lambs" also costs money. This way, when Stockman leaves office, he might have a tidy stack of cash to play with.
It's as of yet unknown how much money he's raised during his Senate race, but even if he didn't raise a penny all evidence still points to, modifying what Jacobs wrote, an attempted grift. Couple this with the precedent of Stockman's syllabus of Federal Elections Commission (FEC) problems and shady financial background and it's not hard to conclude that whoever donated their money to Stockman's primary campaign was thoroughly ripped off by this certifiable nutbag/crook who had no intention of defeating Cornyn or really even trying to do so.
What about that syllabus of problems?
--In addition to all of the other wacky news stories to come from Stockman's itty-bitty clown car, Stockman was forced to fire two staffers who illegally donated thousands of dollars to his campaign, then reported the donations to the FEC as having come from relatives of the staffers. Stockman called the Houston Chronicle's exclusive reporting about the FEC filing an "ambush story," which leads us to the question: would he have fired his staffers had the story not been made public? Absolutely not.
--In the middle 1990s, when he previously held a congressional seat for one term, Stockman used a pro-Stockman newspaper, the Southeast Texas Times, as a campaign publication and was fined $40,000 for "failing to correctly label the 'newspapers' as campaign materials" after he admitted to doing it.
--Then he pulled a similar stunt during his 2012 campaign when he designed his campaign mailers to resemble newspapers. The Republican majority on the FEC panel voted in support of Stockman, however, and the case was dropped.
--And get this: last week a "newspaper" called the Conservative News emerged with a very obvious pro-Stockman message. The publisher? One of the two fired Stockman staffers, Jason Posey.
--During the 2012 campaign, Stockman also sent letters to voters on stationary that contained an illustration of the U.S. Capitol building. In the text of the letter, Stockam referred to himself as a congressman. He wasn't. Not until the following January.
--He filed his campaign financial disclosure form a year late, after he had already been elected, and then failed to include required information about his income, his business revenue and so forth. He also claimed that he earned $350,000 from a mysterious outfit called The Presidential Trust Marketing.
--Oh, while we're here, in addition to his tasteless "If Babies Had Guns They Wouldn't Be Aborted" campaign bumper sticker, Stockman also gave away "Obama barf bags" to anyone who donated $10 to his campaign. Stockman included the following message with the barf bags: "Obama’s job-killing, freedom-stealing socialism makes me sick to my stomach. And it makes me sick with anger when I see him shredding the Constitution, exploding our debt, bowing down to foreign dictators and plunging this country into European socialism!"
That right there is some authentic frontier gibberish.
It's really a miracle the guy isn't in jail. But come January, 2015, we won't have Steve Stockman to kick around any more. That said, there's a solid shot that his seat in the Crazy Caucus will be filled by whichever crackpot takes over his district -- likely a dentist named Brian Babin. ("Folks, it’s going to take a dentist to pull the teeth out of Obamacare, and I promise I will be that dentist!" Babin really said this out loud.)
Sure, there's no lack of insane people in Congress, but Stockman is a special brand of meta-crazy -- crazy within crazy wrapped in more crazy. While I'm satisfied that he won't be voting on laws that impact the entire nation after next January, part of me is going to miss the silly bastard... purely as a spectator sport, that is.
Adding... In the gubernatorial race in Texas, unless Wendy Davis runs a spectacular general election campaign, it looks like Ted Nugent's buddy Greg Abbott is going to be the next governor there. Tell me again how we shouldn't pay attention to Nugent.