Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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How Steve Stockman Pioneered the Uncampaign

| Tue Mar. 4, 2014 10:17 PM EST

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) easily topped the 50-percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in Tuesday's Republican Senate primary. Two years after tea party activists helped send Ted Cruz to Washington, Cornyn escaped unscathed, and will almost certainly win another term in November. Heading into the primary, the only real drama was whether his opponent, Rep. Steve Stockman, would even vote for himself—Stockman hasn't voted in a GOP primary election since 2004, which includes both the preliminary and runoff elections in his victorious 2012 campaign.

The Stockman campaign defied convention, often spectacularly so. He made what the Dallas Morning News called a "rare public appearance" on January 14, and then he disappeared. He wasn't seen for days, during which time he missed 17 consecutive votes and his House office refused to say where he was. Then his staff switched gears, revealing that he had been in Russia, Egypt, and Israel and chiding American reporters for not paying attention to a press conference he'd held overseas. He came back in time for the State of the Union, only to theatrically storm out midway through.

His campaign office was literally condemned. His staff, such as it was, refused to alert reporters to upcoming public events, which may have been because there weren't any. Seriously—try to find any record that he held one in the last two months. The closest thing to a Stockman campaign effort was a fake newspaper, sent to conservative mail boxes, which quoted Stockman's campaign literature about Cornyn verbatim, but which the Stockman campaign claimed it had nothing to do with. He filed a libel lawsuit against a pro-Cornyn PAC for alleging he had been jail and charged with a felony for drug possession, despite admitting in 1995 to these allegations in an interview. And he just cold stopped filing campaign finance reports. He raised virtually no money, nor is it clear what, if anything, his campaign spent its cash on. He didn't run any TV ads. He claimed he had been endorsed by the Tea Party Patriots, when the group had done nothing of the sort.

But the amazing thing about Stockman isn't his total refusal to campaign—it's that this is the first time this strategy has failed him. Consider this Houston Chronicle story from 2012:

Steve Stockman, 55, who served one term in Congress in the 1990s, spurns most public events and candidate forums and rarely talks to news media. Instead, he has blanketed the East Texas district with fake tabloid newspapers emblazoned with such headlines as "[Republican rival] Stephen Takach drove family friend into bankruptcy," "Gunowners Furious as Takach sides with 'gun grabbers'" (Sheila Jackson Lee, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi) and "Takach smears Stockman for taking care of his Alzheimer's-stricken father."

Sound familiar? Stockman beat Takach. And he went on to win the general election by 44 points, operating out of a garage. He used the same newspaper strategy when he was elected to the House in 1994, too—though he also denied involvement at the time, even though it was being printed at his home address.

Stockman will leave behind no political legacy, unless you were one of the lucky few to receive an "If Babies Had Guns They Wouldn't Be Aborted" bumper sticker. If you were one of a handful of Texans who donated to his campaign, you would have been better served lighting your money on fire. But he was, nonetheless, a trailblazer. We salute you, Steve Stockman, pioneer of the uncampaign.

Rahm Emanuel on Charlton Heston: "Shove It up His Ass"

| Fri Feb. 28, 2014 3:31 PM EST

On Friday, after a one-year delay, Bill Clinton's presidential library posted thousands of pages of previously unreleased documents. It's mostly inside baseball stuff, but there are some useful nuggets. For instance, a 1998 memo written by White House speechwriter Jeff Shesol recounts a proposal by then-Clinton-aide Rahm Emanuel (who went on to be President Barack Obama's chief of staff and is now mayor of Chicago) for dealing with National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston, in a speech heralding a new bulletproof vest law: "Shove it up his ass." 

 
William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library

Florida GOP House Candidate Blasted Over Climate Denial

| Fri Feb. 28, 2014 1:06 PM EST

Here's something you don't see every day: A major ad buy in a swing congressional district about...rising sea levels. A special election in Florida's 13th congressional district is scheduled for March 11, and the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club are spending $350,000 attacking Republican candidate Dave Jolly for his recent comments on climate change. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Jolly said, "I don't think the impact that humans have had on our climate is so dramatic as it requires a significant shift in federal policy."

Here's the text:

Ignore the storms. Ignore polar cold. Ignore sea levels rising all around us. Ignore climate change. That's David Jolly's view. But Gulf tides are rising, and the risk of flooding has doubled. NASA and the U.S. military agree: Pinellas needs to prepare. The Times says Jolly's wrong on climate change—that Jolly should go back to his "science books and learn some facts." David Jolly. Back to school, not to Congress.

It's not unusual to see the LCV pushing politicians to focus on climate change, but with the race a virtual toss-up, is a sign that environmental groups view it as a winning issue—even in a district that's been represented by a Republican every year since 1982.

Why Politicians Shouldn't Pack Heat, a Continuing Series

| Thu Feb. 27, 2014 12:16 PM EST

On Tuesday, we published a piece from the current issue of the print magazine about lawmakers who were caught mishandling their firearms at work. But after the story came out, I was flooded with submissions from readers who remembered other instances of lawmakers getting in gun trouble—at home, at the airport, and at Dunkin Donuts. Here's an addendum:

2013: An AR-15 rifle is stolen from the unlocked garage of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). "Her family is very big on gun safety and she wants to get to the bottom of this herself," a spokesman tells Politico.

Illinois Democratic state Sen. Donne Trotter is sentenced to a year of court supervision and 60 hours of community service after attempting to bring a gun onto a plane at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Trotter says he forgot to remove the .25-caliber gun and ammunition from his bag after leaving his second job as a security guard.

2012: Colorado state Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R) calls police to report that a revolver had been stolen from his home, where it had stored it "in plain view" on a shelf in his closet.

2011: Tennessee state Rep. Curry Todd (R) is arrested for driving and possessing a gun while under the influence after a traffic stop in Nashville. He serves 48 hours in jail but will get his .38-caliber pistol back after his one-year probation period ends.

Maine state Rep. Frederick Wintle, a Republican, is banned from the state capitol after allegedly waving a loaded .22-caliber at a local newspaper photographer in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot. "I didn't know if he was going to shoot me or if it would accidentally go off," the photographer says.

2010: After being stopped outside of an abortion clinic with a loaded gun, Minnesota state Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R) is stripped of his leadership position. Hackbarth tells authorities that he did not realize he was outside an abortion clinic at the time, and was merely doing recon on a woman he had met on an internet dating site.

2001: Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.) is accused of dry-firing a handgun outside of his wife's bedroom during the couple's divorce proceedings.

h/t @litzz11

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