Is John Cornyn Really Less Conservative Than Ted Cruz?

Just 26 votes separate Texas tea partiers’ favorite senator from the one they want to beat.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks to the media after Senate joint caucus meeting, on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. The senators met in a closed-session in the Old Senate Chamber Wednesday evening to discuss the subjects of filibusters and presidential nominations. 
National Journal
Scott Bland
Add to Briefcase
Scott Bland
Dec. 16, 2013, 12:02 p.m.

For Texas tea parti­ers, the space between Sen­ate hero and Sen­ate vil­lain is just 26 votes.

That is the num­ber of times John Cornyn has cast a dif­fer­ent vote this year than the state’s oth­er sen­at­or, the tea party-pre­ferred Ted Cruz.

It works out to less than 10 per­cent of the 273 (and count­ing) roll calls the Sen­ate has taken in 2013.

And in some of those votes, in­clud­ing a hand­ful of ju­di­cial con­firm­a­tions for Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pointees, Cornyn staked out a more con­ser­vat­ive po­s­i­tion than his fel­low Tex­an, who has be­come a grass­roots GOP star in the past two years.

But don’t tell that to his tea-party crit­ics. In­deed, while Cruz has been cheered back home for his work in Wash­ing­ton, plenty of act­iv­ists in Texas have been hop­ing for the chance to de­feat Cornyn in the Texas Re­pub­lic­an primary. Some tea-party groups had tried for months to re­cruit a well-known chal­lenger. (Idio­syn­crat­ic Rep. Steve Stock­man sub­mit­ted pa­pers to take up their cause just minutes be­fore the fil­ing dead­line last week. Since then, he’s bashed Cornyn as “lib­er­al John Cornyn.”)

“The prob­lem with Sen. Cornyn isn’t that he’s some big lib­er­al,” said JoAnn Flem­ing, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or for one of the groups, Grass­roots Amer­ica We the People, which tried to re­cruit a chal­lenger to Cornyn. “He con­tin­ues to do fun­draisers and of­fer sup­port for es­tab­lish­ment-type Re­pub­lic­ans who we be­lieve aren’t help­ing to get to the root of the prob­lem: big gov­ern­ment…. He’s done some things we be­lieve aren’t in the best in­terest of the coun­try be­cause they con­tin­ue to grow gov­ern­ment.”

Of course, it’s the con­tent of par­tic­u­lar split votes, not the total num­ber, that most an­im­ates Cornyn’s de­tract­ors. (This ana­lys­is coun­ted roll calls in which both sen­at­ors voted. Cornyn and Cruz have missed five and 16 votes this year, re­spect­ively.)

He and Cruz have di­verged in­fre­quently, but one such vote was on a clo­ture mo­tion for a spend­ing bill just be­fore the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment shut down this fall. Days earli­er on Fox News Sunday, Cruz had said, “A vote for clo­ture is a vote for Obama­care.”

And Cornyn has also taken past votes — es­pe­cially the one to let the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment bail out en­dangered banks dur­ing the fin­an­cial crisis of 2008 — that have in­furi­ated some con­ser­vat­ives.

That, along with Cornyn’s status in lead­er­ship (the Sen­ate’s No. 2 Re­pub­lic­an and two re­cent terms at the helm of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee), has fueled some dis­quiet about the Lone Star State’s seni­or sen­at­or since he won a thor­oughly un­in­ter­est­ing primary in 2008 with 81 per­cent of the vote.

But as his of­fi­cial du­ties go, there is little day­light between Cornyn and the fa­vor­ite of the act­iv­ists work­ing to un­seat him.

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
3 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login