I don’t like this coffee. If this cream were any richer and whiter it’d be carrying a liberal protest sign.
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveStockmanTX) March 25, 2013
His tweets, like the one above, have quickly established him as a lightning rod in the House, injecting new Tea-Party fervor into a GOP caucus that was expected to mellow a bit with the departure of Florida’s Allen West. His relentless attacks on everything from climate change to to the Violence Against Women Act have earned Stockman a place in the top-tier of House Republican bomb-throwers, with some saying that he is the “new Michele Bachmann,” while others suggest that he is merely setting a new standard for political “idiocy.”
The Houston Chronicle took a look at the right-wing firebrand, who started shaking up Capitol Hill almost immediately after returning there this year.
Democrat Nick Lampson, former member of the House of Representatives who defeated Stockman in 1996, wants to say that Stockman’s behavior is beyond “idiocy.”
I want to say he’s a crazy man… but I can’t say he’s a crazy man. He thinks – differently. He only sees government as something that needs to be shut down or done away with. His views are not what I grew up believing were mainstream. But he’s found a way where he can succeed politically.
“I believed in 1994 that Steve Stockman was a nut and I think that is still the case,” says political scientist Bruce Drury of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Drury is from the gulf coast city located east of Houston that forms part of the state’s newly-drawn 36th Congressional district, one of four new House seats awarded to Texas when the 2010 census showed that the Lone Star State’s population grew by a robust 20 percent in the previous decade. Republican lawmakers at the state capitol in Austin created the 36th district to favor deeply conservative candidates.
Stockman’s recent congressional victory came nearly 20 years after his first election to the House of Representatives, when he unseated a long-time incumbent Democrat in the Republican landslide that made Newt Gingrich the party’s first House Speaker in decades. In 1996, voters in this other district voted Stockman out of office after just one term.
His new perch in the 36th district suggests that he will continue to succeed politically, no matter how much his views deviate from the mainstream in the national media. Stockman returned to Congress last year with the support of over seventy percent of the voters, so don’t expect them to turn him out of office as quickly as they did last time.