David Barton, an evangelical political activist, is reportedly considering a run against U.S. Senator John Cornyn in next year's Republican primary in Texas. Barton is known for his history books, which historians say are full of factual errors.
Conservative media figure Glenn Beck and some Tea Party groups in Texas are asking Barton to run. On his radio show last week, Beck described a phone conversation he had with Barton on the topic.
According to Beck's recollection of the call, after he broached the subject with Barton, "there was dead silence on the phone."
"If the Lord tells me to do it, I'll do it, but so far I haven't heard," Barton reportedly told Beck.
Before approaching Barton, Beck said he tried to recruit Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert and Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas' other U.S. senator, Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz was backed by the Tea Party in his 2012 primary and was able to defeat a candidate backed by Republican Party leaders. Beck and Tea Party groups are hoping to repeat that success in 2014 against Cornyn. Thus far, though, they do not have a candidate.
Barton is the president and founder of Wallbuilders and has written many books on U.S. history. Those books usually emphasize the role of Christianity in America's founding.
He has no formal training as a historian, though, and his books have been criticized by historians, some of whom are also evangelical Christians, for many inaccuracies. Barton takes quotes out of context and ignores evidence that runs counter to his arguments, they claim.
Last Summer, the publishing company Thomas Nelson pulled its publication of Barton's The Jefferson Lies due to the book's many errors.
In a Monday article for First Things, Greg Forster, program director at the Kern Family Foundation, senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and a frequent critic of Barton, described his potential candidacy as "David Barton's Traveling Medicine Show."
"Perennial embarrassment David Barton, desperate for attention after the humiliating events surrounding his last book, is making noises about running for the Senate. Barton 'advisor' Rick Green is making statements to the press that reflect all the modesty, self-awareness and mastery of public relations that we've come to expect from The David Barton Traveling Medicine Show," Forster wrote.
Barton is more of a Christian Right leader than a Tea Party leader, but there tends to be overlap between the two groups. One recent report from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that about half of the Tea Party movement is comprised of those who identify with the Christian Right. In Texas, the overlap could be even greater.