Steve Stockman surprised just about everyone with a last minute decision to give up his safe House seat and enter the primary against John Cornyn.
He's obviously hoping to ride the increasing wave of discontent against the GOP congressional leadership, and force Cornyn into a run-off, where, as Ted Cruz demonstrated, anything's possible.
I don't know enough about Stockman and Texas GOP politics to opine about his chances, but I'd like to suggest that his entry will have a major impact on other GOP primaries.
There's one big difference between this race, and Cruz's in 2012. That was for an open seat. Stockman is running against a sitting senator, and in this primary, people won't be voting FOR Stockman; rather, they'll be voting AGAINST Cornyn.
And that's why Stockman is going to do much better than predicted.
Texas votes very early. The primary is on March 4th, the run-off, if needed is on May 27. If one posits that the campaign won't begin in earnest until after New Year's, then the time until the primary is actually several weeks SHORTER than that until the run-off.
Thus, there really isn't time for Stockman to define himself (other than that he's NOT Cornyn); nor is there time for Cornyn to define his opponent, although they'll attempt to smear him somehow. It won't work. If Texas conservatives are truly pissed-off enough, mad-as-hell-and-they're-not-gonna-take-it-any-more..then Stockman will do really, really well. Period.
But that's only the beginning.
There are four other GOP primaries in the South were sitting GOPe senators are facing challenges from Tea Party insurgents: Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the big prize..Kentucky.
And that's why it's all about the dates:
Kentucky: Primary date May 2o
Mississippi: Primary date June 3, run-off date June 24
South Carolina: Primary date June 10, run-off date June 24
Tennessee: Primary date August 7
See the pattern here? If Stockman manages to force Cornyn into a run off, the Tea Party groups will be so energized that in the next 4 races, the incumbents will either lose or be forced into a run-off, and then lose.
If Stockman does well, as I think he will..that's almost as bad news for the incumbents. If, as many are starting to suspect, 2014 will be a wave election, then in Red states the wave will first appear in the primaries.
And because Stockman's such a late entry, and the campaign is so short, there won't be any chance for meaningful polls. We'll all be sitting here waiting for the results, and I expect they may have a tsunami-lie effect of the 4 southern state primaries that follow.
How'd you like to be Mitch McConnell, if Stockman polls 40%, let alone forces Cornyn into a run-off?
And pity poor Lamar Alexander, facing the voters last.