For a freshman congressman with no prior experience in elected office, Rep. Dan Crenshaw is playing the political game exceptionally well.
In less than a year, the Houston area congressman and former Navy SEAL has skyrocketed to the top of Republican celebritydom, carving out an image for himself as both an unmoving millennial defender of conservatism and a bipartisan problem solver.
Yet, aside from a heartwarming SNL appearance during his 2018 campaign where he urged unity, Crenshaw has done little to earn his reputation as, to borrow from a profile in the Washington Examiner, “the man in the middle.” Or as Politico put it, the GOP freshman offering “a vision for the party somewhere between Trumpism and NeverTrumpism.”
Nine months into the job, it’s clear Crenshaw is a loyal ally to Trump. He has voted in-line with Trump’s hard-right agenda 93 percent of the time, according to vote tracking by FiveThirtyEight. A similar ProPublica tracker shows Crenshaw has only been out of step with House Republicans in 7 percent of his votes– slightly less than the average Republican.
The congressman has frequently voted with the most conservative House members. In January, he repeatedly voted against ending the 35-day government shutdown —the longest shutdown in U.S. history initiated by Trump after he failed to secure federal funds from Congress for his border wall. At the time, several of the largest veterans’ groups united in calling for an end to the shutdown, warning that hundreds of thousands of veterans employed by the federal government, including the Coast Guard, were working without pay.
If there was ever a time for the congressman to show his stripes as some sort of new, unique strain of Republican, it would have been in February when Trump declared a national emergency to divert military funds to pay for his border wall. Like other Republicans, Crenshaw was concerned by the move and told reporters he remained “wary of the precedent it sets.” Despite that, he voted against ending the national emergency and continues to be an ardent supporter of Trump’s border wall.
Elsewhere, Crenshaw has also voted against a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children– a group that a bipartisan majority of Texans support giving citizenship to– and voted against creating basic humanitarian standards for immigrants in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. On universal background checks, something poll after poll has shown at least 90 percent of Texans support, Crenshaw recently complained on Twitter that the policy would prevent him from lending his gun out to friends.
Also of concern, on Wednesday, an investigative reporter found that Crenshaw liked a meme about himself on a neo-nazi instagram page.
Looking ahead to 2020, Crenshaw has already earned himself a Democratic challenger. A fellow Navy veteran and science teacher, Elisa Cardnell recently weighed in on a feud between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Crenshaw.
“This is personal for me too,” Cardnell said in a statement. “We made a promise to our service members that if they are willing to give their lives for our country, we must be willing to care for them. From fully funding the VA to making sure that no vet is homeless, we must do more to take care of our veterans.”
In his defense, Crenshaw has a few things going for him that makes him stand apart from fellow Republicans. He’s young and he’s proficient with Twitter. But it’s a short list.
Photo: Rep. Dan Crenshaw