Failing Upwards: The John Cornyn Story
By John Hawkins
After John Cornyn was reelected in 2008, he took over as the National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman. Since Cornyn was viewed as smart and conservative, most Republicans were pleased with that selection. However, Cornyn proved to be a DISASTER.
To be fair, Cornyn did have a good year in 2010 when we added on 7 Senate seats, but let’s face it: the GOP had a once every half a century election victory; so EVERYONE did well.
Yet, even during that wave election, Cornyn tried to blow one of our biggest successes.
You see, most conservatives were THRILLED that Marco Rubio had thrown his hat in the ring to run for the Senate in Florida. Here we had a young, charismatic, conservative, electable Hispanic son of immigrants who was immediately embraced by the GOP base. Rubio seemed like a no-brainer of a selection given that almost everyone seemed to be saying that the GOP had looked too old, too bland, and too white in 2008.
Then, Charlie Crist decided to run and he was immediately endorsed by Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell among others. One of those others was John Cornyn at the NRSC who had this to say:
“I am pleased today to endorse Governor Charlie Crist for the United States Senate. With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans. Charlie Crist is a tireless advocate on behalf of all Floridians and one of only three Governors who earned an ‘A’ from the CATO Institute for his efforts to restrain spending and cut taxes last year.”
When that happened, I: helped organize a group of bloggers that publicly confronted the NRSC, told the NRSC to stay out of the primaries and encouraged people not to donate to it as long as it continued to do so.
The NRSC didn’t do any more public endorsements after that and, as everyone knows, Rubio won out and in the end the GOP had a great year.
Fast forward to 2012.
The Democrats had a lot of vulnerable seats and early on, most people thought the GOP had a great opportunity to take back the Senate. Four to five seats gained didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. However, by the time Todd Akin stuck his foot in his mouth, most people thought we probably only had an opportunity to pick up 3 seats.
Yet, in the end? We lost two seats.
Much has been made of Akin and Mourdock losing, but we STILL should have picked up a couple of seats regardless. Unfortunately, the NRSC’s terrible recruiting and poor help for the campaigns turned what should have been a good year for the GOP into a strengthened hand for the Democrats. This was not inevitable since the GOP added governorships and almost held its ground in the House, where we have such a huge advantage that it was almost a given we’d lose seats. So, John Cornyn’s NRSC underperformed and was a huge disappointment in 2012.
So naturally, this being the “stupid party,” what happened next? John Cornyn was elected Minority Whip.
So now, we have Mitch McConnell, a timid man who been consistently and persistently outmaneuvered and outsmarted by Harry Reid, teamed up with John Cornyn who was a failure in the last election cycle.
Put another way, the GOP in the Senate is now being led by two men who have such terrible instincts that they endorsed Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio.