Poll Finds Competitive Senate Race in Texas; Almost Nobody Buys It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 17 2014 3:58 PM

Poll Finds Competitive Senate Race in Texas; Almost Nobody Buys It

DALLAS—I arrived in Texas to cover an incumbent's slow mosey toward renomination, and not 24 hours later I see this:

The No.2 Republican in the Senate is polling below the 50 percent threshold in the party’s March 4 primary that he needs to clear in order to avoid a May 10 runoff, according to a Feb. 10-12 Human Events/Gravis poll of 729 registered RepublicansSen. John Cornyn... has the approval [of] 49 percent of those questioned and 43 percent preferred him to main challenger Rep. Stephen E. Stockman (R.-Texas), who polled 28 percent.
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The Cornyn campaign has acted from day one as if Stockman does not exist, with Cornyn himself claiming no interaction with the guy, ever. No surprise: The campaign didn't comment on the record about the poll, which finds a candidate who's raised five figures and made few public appearances surging 13 points in three months. Stockman's only one of seven candidates challenging Cornyn, but the poll doesn't mention them. Nobody else looking at the race sees Cornyn sinking like this. 

But hey, the poll elicited the first fresh quotes from Stockman in quite a while. Stockman spokesman Donny Ferguson had given Human Events a triumphant read on the poll too, so I asked him for a reaction to Karl Rove's appearance on the stump for Cornyn.

"In TV station records the PAC running those anti-Stockman ads gave their address as Rove's Warrenton, Va. office," he wrote in an email. "When Stockman ran for Railroad Commission in 1998 his opponent was a one-term state representative polling in single digits. Rove convinced him to drop out, recruited a Bush family friend and then-Texas Secretary of State to run in his place and recorded that candidate's TV ads on his front porch. The candidate switch happened just days after Rove personally told Stockman he would stay out of the race. In 2012 Rove did consulting work for both of Stockman's opponents."

"Not to mention that Karl Rove looks like an elderly baby."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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