POLITICS
02/22/2013 12:05 pm ET | Updated Feb 22, 2013

John Cornyn Gets A Tea Party Challenger In Texas Senate Race

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has officially drawn a tea party-type challenger in the form of Iraq war veteran Erick Wyatt.

A successful bid against the powerful Cornyn by a political unknown like Wyatt, who filed federal election papers on Tuesday, would seem far-fetched, but Cornyn's approval rating was only 40 percent last spring. Former Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) enjoyed approval ratings of 60 percent and above in the two years before he lost to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Wyatt lacks the platform of statewide office, so he'll likely face an uphill battle even to win recognition. Nevertheless, Democrats would probably welcome a vigorous charge from the veteran, whose most-recent campaign blog post argues that President Barack Obama is pushing for immigration reform to benefit an uncle who is an undocumented immigrant facing deportation.

"If [Obama] manipulates simple laws like this to protect his ILLEGAL family members, what else do you think he is willing to manipulate and turn for his own private use?," Wyatt writes.

Republicans don't appear to be taking him too seriously. Noted one GOP operative: "He misspelled Republican on his filing. It appears he is running for the "Republoican" nomination, so…."

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. -- A spokeswoman for Cornyn emailed: "As National Journal recently noted, Sen. Cornyn is the second most conservative senator out of 100. Sen. Cornyn looks forward to discussing his record at the appropriate time but in the interim welcomes Mr. Wyatt into the race."

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