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AUSTIN, Texas -- In a last-minute surprise, U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman has filed paperwork to challenge fellow Texas Republican and incumbent John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate.

Cornyn is the Senate's majority whip and had appeared likely to escape a major challenge from the tea party or other conservative factions next year.

But Texas Republican Party spokesman Spencer Yeldell said Stockman came in shortly before Monday's evening's filing deadline, withdrew his House re-election bid and formally challenged Cornyn.

Stockman was elected to a new House district outside Houston last year but still should be a decided underdog in the race.

Previously, he served one term in Congress starting in 1994. He was perhaps best known for accusing the U.S. government of executing members of the Branch Davidian cult after the siege near Waco.

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