The 12-way race to replace Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) ended in a runoff Tuesday night, while the congressman lost his Senate primary bid for Sen. John Cornyn’s seat. Known for campaign stunts like raffling off an assault rifle and calling for President Obama’s impeachment, Stockman sets a high bar of controversy for his potential successors, Brian Babin or Ben Streusand, to top. Still, based on a ThinkProgress review of candidate footage, either candidate could be up for the challenge in the safe Republican district.
Brian Babin is Woodville’s former mayor and a dentist who has campaigned with the slogan, “It’s going to take a dentist to pull the teeth out of Obamacare.” Babin is against comprehensive immigration reform, but does support building a wall on U.S.-Mexico border. Channeling fellow Texan Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) famous “oops” moment, Babin declared at one campaign event he does not “believe we need the Department of Energy,” and also wants to abolish the Departments of Homeland Security and Education.
Like Stockman, who’s battling allegations of violating campaign finance law, Babin was ensnared in his own financial ethics case from a failed 1996 congressional bid. He paid a staggering sum of $20,000 in civil fines and $5,000 in excessive contributions for taking illegal contributions and routing campaign donations through a GOP consulting firm that claimed it did not advocate for or against candidates.
Ben Streusand, the other contender for the seat, is a Tea Party favorite and the former Chairman of the Texas Americans For Prosperity — a group connected to the Koch brothers.
Streusand was enthusiastically in favor of an indefinite government shutdown last fall. “It’s not that important to have the government open and running,” he said, arguing that House Republicans should have extended the shutdown forever when their anti-Obamacare demands weren’t met. “It’s much more important to walk away from this battle without folding like a cheap suit—without folding like Republicans typically do in the House of Representatives,” he said. Streusand didn’t think sequestration had any negative consequences, either, saying he never “heard anybody complaining all that much about it.”
He does not believe in any corporate tax rate at all, saying the country would be better off if “we simply eliminated the corporate tax rate in its entirety. The proceeds would flow down to employees, wages would rise, and we would be able to eliminate this patchwork tax code that distorts every nook and cranny of the American economy.” He’s also claimed gay marriage opponents live in perpetual fear of retribution for their views. “Our Texas values are under assault by Hollywood, by the media, and by the federal government,” he said. “Those of us who support traditional marriage must live in fear of retribution by our employers for speaking our mind. Those of us that believe life starts at conception are attacked for our Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
The two candidates face off in a May runoff as they compete for the seat in one of Texas’ most Republican districts.