There’s been a lot of criticism of John Cornyn in Tea Party circles over his failure to back Ted Cruz in procedural votes on the ObamaCare defunding fight. Given that, the muttering over someone primarying Cornyn have grown much louder.
Can anyone take Cornyn? It’s something of a tall order. He had some $6 million on hand as of the July reporting period, and any potential candidate will have a much latter start than Ted Cruz had when he beat David Dewhurst.
I queried a few people more tied-in than I, and three names of possible Cornyn challengers came up:
U.S. Congressman Louis Gohmert was the most popular choice. Gohmert is a solid conservative, and Mark Levin has even put up a Draft Congressman Gohmert for U.S. Senate page on Facebook. The drawback is that Gohmert isn’t wealthy enough to self-fund, and his East Texas district puts him far away from the Houston and Metroplex fundraising pools that would be necessary to fund a statewide campaign.
U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul was a very close second. McCaul is widely considered to be “conservative enough” (and has an ACU rating of 91%) and with a personal fortune estimated to be around $300 million (his wife is the daughter of the founder of Clear Channel), he could clearly self-fund. McCaul was considering a Senate run in 2012, but ultimately opted against it.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willet has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, and he’s well-respected among conservatives. But stepping from the Texas Supreme Court to the U.S. Senate is a tall order (Cornyn did it via a stint as Texas Attorney General), and Willet has joked about not being rich, so self-funding is probably out for him as well.
(Unmentioned by anyone, but someone who’s family connections would bring instant media coverage: George P. Bush. But name recognition and family connections only take you so far. Bush would go from an overwhelming favorite for Land Commissioner to a distinct underdog in a Senate race, plus there’s no guarantee he would be any more conservative than Cornyn. And Tea Party opinion of the Bush Dynasty is not exactly one of, shall we say, unrestrained affection.)
It’s going to be a tall order to take out a sitting U.S. Senator, barring scandal or even more deviation from conservative principles. But of those mentioned, McCaul probably has the best shot to beat Cornyn.