Steve Stockman Had a Cunning Plan

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 14 2014 4:59 PM

Steve Stockman Had a Cunning Plan

It may be the only thing I wrote this week that anyone cares about, so let me recorrect and restraighten the record about it: Steve Stockman's hot tub party. Floyd Brown, the towering creator of the 1988 Willie Horton campaign, uses his column at WorldNetDaily to whack at the media's coverage of it. I quote him quoting WaPo, then his own words.

The Washington Post characterized it this way: “The real-life CPAC party, held at a suite in the Gaylord Hotel where the conference was taking place, featured an expletive-spewing congressman, Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, offering $20 to whoever would jump into the bathroom’s hot tub, according to Slate’s Dave Weigel. Weigel witnessed Stockman, the quirky challenger who was just crushed by Sen. John Cornyn in the state’s Senate Republican primary, offer this eloquent toast: ‘F–- the left!’”  
First, Stockman wasn’t drinking alcohol at the party. The hot tub was outside and not in a bathroom. Everyone in the hot tub had bathing suits on. This is just another mainstream media hit job that fabricated facts.
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OK, it's true that WaPo (not me) muffed the location of the hot tub. It was outside. I never said otherwise, and the photos prove it. I didn't ask Stockman what he was drinking (who cared?), but it was, I'll say, browner than spring water typically is. No one claimed the hot tub party was naked—that would have been the lede.

But Brown's writing about something else. "Stockman did exactly what he set out to achieve," he argues. "He knew Karl Rove was intent on taking him out in his congressional primary, so he upped the ante and forced Rove to spend millions protecting his crown jewel, John Cornyn."

That doesn't make sense. Stockman didn't have a primary opponent. When he filed for Senate, on Dec. 9, no one credible had filed to run against him in the House race. Brown says Stockman forced Cornyn-allied groups to spend up to "$10 million" against him. We need to wait to see the final total, but the pro-Cornyn PAC Texans for a Conservative Majority spent only $1 million before the start of early voting. And Cornyn was facing a bunch of Tea Party candidates who ran harder than Stockman did. It's not like the money wouldn't have moved if Stockman hadn't sleepwalked into the race.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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