John Cornyn Hires a Tea Party Campaign Manager

John Cornyn, left, and Mitch McConnell have both turned to Tea Party gurus to stave off attacks from the right.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Both the minority leader and the minority whip of the U.S. Senate are up for re-election next year. Mitch McConnell’s campaign is managed by Jesse Benton, who cut his teeth on the 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul for president campaigns and the 2010 Rand Paul for Senate campaign. Accordingly, McConnell has worked like the devil to avoid being outflanked on the right.

And so John Cornyn, the whip, has just announced his campaign manager. Brendan Steinhauser, the new pick, was FreedomWorks’ director of state campaigns from the start of the Tea Party movement through the end of 2012, when a famous split drove FreedomWorks’ current leadership away from Dick Armey, its famous chairman. Steinhauser was the guy who hotfooted it down to swing states to organize in Senate races. He helped when the movement took out Sen. Bob Bennett; as Cornyn points out, he “led the group’s effort to elect Ted Cruz to the Senate in 2012.” (Inside FreedomWorks it wasn’t always obvious that Cruz’s was the race to get involved with. Steinhauser, a native Texan, disagreed.)

Nothing new here, really, but it’s yet more evidence of the outside swallowing up what was inside. Cornyn’s hope is that the new OFA-spawned “Battleground Texas,” and its data-driven effort to drive up Hispanic turnout and blueify the state, can be outwitted by the Tea Party movement—though the Tea Party was at its vote-getting-est in 2010, when minority turnout swooned.