Just behind Florida’s slate of eleven candidates, the state of Texas had nine Tea Party endorsed candidates. All nine were elected, in some cases by wide and unassailable margins. Louie Gohmert (R. TX-01) won with over 71% of the vote. Randy Neugebauer (R. TX-19) had no Democratic opponent and received 85%. Ted Poe (R. TX-12) pulled almost 65%, and so on. Joining, or more properly, rejoining this grouping in congress will be Steve Stockman. Stockman defeated two opponents with more money in the Republican primaries for Texas’ 36th CD, and then won the November contest with 71.8% of the vote. He was endorsed by former Texas Congressman Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks Tea Party faction along the way.
Steve Stockman was last elected to congress in 1994, in the Gingrich-led Republican takeover of congress. During that period he was known as a religious conservative opposed to abortion rights, and a fierce advocate of gun rights and a friend of the militia movement. Congressman Stockman wrote a conspiracy-besotted article for Guns & Ammo magazine in June 1995, after the error-ridden BATF and then FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas. Stockman argued that “Waco was supposed to be a way for the … Clinton Administration to prove the need for a ban on so-called assault weapons.” Further he wrote, “Bill Clinton and the gun-control lobby were not unhappy with the fiery end of the siege at Waco. Waco was to be a lesson to gun owners all over America.” (Hon Steve. Stockman “Congressman Stockman Assaults the “Assault Weapons” Ban,” Guns & Ammo, June 1995, p. 26.)
Similarly, Stockman’s friendship for gun advocates and the militias became a point of controversy after the murderous bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in April 1995. In March, at the behest of gun lobby groups, he wrote a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno inquiring about any planned “paramilitary-style attack against Americans.” Then on April 19, the day of the bombing, Stockman received a FAX from a militia follower about an hour after the bombing that contained the message: “First update. Bldg 7 to 10 floors only. Military people on scene-BATF/FBI. Bomb threat received last week. Perpetrator unknown this time. Oklahoma.” Stockman’s office sent the FAX immediately over the National Rifle Association, but it took over two hours to send it to the FBI.
In addition to his anti-choice, guns and militia politics, Stockman was also active in anti-immigrant causes. In May 1995, Congressman Stockman introduced a proposal to amend the constitution, H. J. Res. 87, calling for an end to birthright citizenship. Initial co-sponsors of that measure included Cong. Helen Chenoweth (R. Id,) another militia advocate in the House of Representatives at that time.
Stockman’s 2012 endorsers represent these passions from the mid-1990s: former Cong. Tom Tancredo, an anti-immigrant voice from Colorado, four gun groups (including Guns Owners of America), the 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin, and a host of others from the far right. The Tea Party caucus in Congress will be tame stuff for Stockman, and his endorsement by FreedomWorks might signal a further radicalization in Tea Party ranks after the election.