Missing Texas Rep. Steve Stockman wasn't missing, according to Steve Stockman — he was just traveling Europe, as one does when trailing badly in a Senate primary and saying you'll take important votes on Capitol Hill. Mystery solved!
Stockman broke his silence by text message to a Breitbart reporter on Saturday. He was in London, he said, part of a congressional delegation swing through the Middle East and Europe. According to Stockman, "the purpose of the trip was to discuss issues relating to terrorism with foreign governments." As for his decision to abandon the campaign trail less than two months before the Republican primary against Sen. John Cornyn, Stockman insisted that he was campaigning. "I missed votes because I don't have a zillion dollars like Cornyn and have [to] campaign. But I wasn't missing. The Dallas Morning News covered my talk and Cornyn's tracker was there. Both the press and Cornyn knew where I was."
Well, sure. But the "talk" Stockman is referring to was on January 14. He missed 17 straight votes in the House, because he had that one campaign event on January 14. (Among those 17 votes: the budget bill, which Stockman had publicly pledged to oppose.) And apparently a secret trip to Egypt and Israel — a trip so secret that the person answering phones at Stockman's office said it was "the first I've heard of that" when asked about it — counts as campaigning, even though the residents of Texas didn't know about it.
A poll conducted in December showed Cornyn up approximately a bajillion points over Stockman. Or, to be more accurate, 50 percent to 6 percent — nearly 9-to-1. Thirty-nine percent of voters were undecided at that point, offering a glimmer of hope for a challenger to Cornyn; if he doesn't get 50 percent of the vote, there's a run-off to see who faces the sacrificial Democratic challenger in November. Maybe the secret-trip-to-Europe strategy will convince some of those undecided people to vote for Stockman. Who knows.
If Stockman loses the primary, which seems essentially certain at this point, he's done. He didn't file for reelection to his House seat, a seat that he only won in 2012. He'll have the ignominious distinction of twice being a one-term member of the House, after winning a seat in the 1994 Republican landslide and being ousted two years later.
Maybe that's at the heart of this. Next year, once Steve Stockman returns to his employment at the nebulous, unexplained Presidential Trust Marketing, he's not likely to get a fully-paid trip to exotic locales complete with security detail. Or, perhaps, he'll be the junior senator from Texas, having managed to overcome misleading Photoshops and a generally poor public perception to oust one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate. If he does, he'll prove that you don't need zillions of dollars to win office. You just need a little time out of the spotlight, away from voters. Given how people feel about Congress, maybe not a terrible strategy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.