Friday, August 8, 2008

Texas Observer - Big Bland John - Cornyn

The Texas Observer has a new story on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is being challenged for re-election by Democrat Rick Noriega.

Democratic strategists in Texas have been telling anyone who will listen for the past year that they can defeat John Cornyn, the state’s junior U.S. senator, in November. This is big talk for a party that hasn’t won a statewide race since 1994 and hasn’t held Cornyn’s senate seat in 47 years. But they have some fancy polling data to back it up. More than a third of Texans wouldn’t know their junior senator if he fell on them. They call this “name ID” (or lack thereof) in the political consulting business. Cornyn’s is abysmal for a politician who’s served as a Texas Supreme Court justice, state attorney general, and, for the past six years, U.S. senator. Of those who do know Cornyn, fewer than 50 percent view him favorably—dangerous territory for an incumbent seeking re-election. Some of those same polls show him running closely with Democratic opponent Rick Noriega.

But you don’t need polling data to know that Cornyn can be beaten. Just watch him give a speech. “Dull” is an understatement . . .

. . . Cornyn often votes with a small group of two-dozen arch-conservatives in the Senate, and in opposition to the more moderate, and more popular, Hutchison. In July 2005, for example, he was one of 26 senators to vote against an amendment requiring gunmakers to install child safety locks on their weapons. In exchange for protecting children, gunmakers received immunity from lawsuits. Hutchison and McCain backed the proposal

“He’s very much seen as a partisan Republican,” says Allen of Congressional Quarterly. “There are a fairly limited number of issues where he’s reached across the aisle.”

He also has surrendered to political expediency. In 2006 and 2007, Congress nearly self-immolated over immigration ahead of the midterm elections. Cornyn made clear he opposed construction of a border fence. He told reporters at the time that walling off the entire border was a 20th century answer to a 21st century problem, that the wall wouldn’t stem illegal immigration, and that it was too expensive. “I’m not sure that’s the best use of that money,” he told reporters in early October 2006.

Three weeks later, he voted for the Secure Fence Act—a vote he later described as symbolic support of border security. He said he didn’t think the fence would ever receive funding. (The funding, of course, did come through, and construction began this summer.) His vote for the wall has infuriated some mayors along the border who are fighting the federal government’s efforts to build the fence.

Read the full Texas Observer article

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