AUSTIN, Texas -

U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman says he's back from a 10-day official visit to Egypt, Israel and Russia -- and is bristling at the notion he was ever missing.

The suburban Houston Republican is challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in Texas' GOP primary on March 4.

But he's made very few campaign appearances in Texas and started missing House votes Jan. 9.

In a statement released Monday from Houston, Stockman said he was on U.S. State Department business as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

With his staff ignoring questions about his whereabouts last week, many media outlets reported on his dropping out of sight.

In response, Stockman said he "decided to hold out and see how long reporters would pretend they didn't know I was on official business."