Back in 2009, a battle erupted in the Texas House of Representatives as Republicans fought over which member would serve as Speaker of the House. The Religious Right lined up behind Tom Craddick, but everyone else supported Joe Straus who ended up winning, leading Rick Scarborough to decry it as a “coup.”
And now a similar battle is unfolding yet again, as the same coalition of right-wing activists have mounted an effort to replace Straus with someone more inclined to do their bidding:
A group of conservative groups is trying to capitalize on that frustration, issuing a letter Nov. 4 calling for a new Speaker. The signatories include representatives from a lot of major conservative groups, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity, the Texas Eagle Forum, [Vision America,] Liberty Institute, former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Cathie Adams, and former Republican Party of Texas vice-chairman David Barton. Of particular concern to grass roots conservatives is the fate of bills requiring showing photo ID prior to voting and bills that limit property taxes.
And, not surprisingly, the effort has started to take on religious overtones:
[A] handful of outside socially conservative groups are running a fairly deceitful but noisy campaign trying to pressure lawmakers who actually like the speaker’s management style to vote against him.
They blame him for the failure of the sonogram bill but the pro-life Texans for Life said the claim is false. They blame him for the failure of voter ID by permitting the Democratic filibuster, but that’s false. Straus followed the direction of his colleagues in the Republican caucus
They said that Straus appointed moderate chairman, but the budget under Straus was more fiscally conservative than the last one under Craddick.
Now, the so-called grassroots effort has crossed over the line with coordinated email and robocall programs calling for a true Christian speaker. Straus is Jewish.
The Texas Freedom Network reports that supporters have also been sending out emails explaining the importance of replaced Straus with a Christian:
Has the religious right’s effort to topple Texas House Speaker Joe Straus become an anti-Semitic smear campaign? Quorum Report (subscription required) has now posted various e-mails from groups and individuals opposed to Straus, who is Jewish. Excerpts:
“Straus is going down in Jesus name.”
“[W]e finally found a Christian conservative who decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.”
Another e-mail calls for replacing Straus as House Speaker so
“…that our nation will again prosper and hold to values that the Christians and Republicans hold so dear in their souls.”
Straus only needs the support of 76 members and has reportedly already secured pledges from nearly twice that number, but his opponents are not giving up.
In fact, just today, Mike Huckabee through his support behind challenger Ken Paxton:
While Republicans across Texas and across the nation had many great victories on November 2nd, the battle for true conservatism is not over. Now, as the majority Party in many State Houses, and the U.S. House, Republicans have the duty and ability to select strong conservatives to be new Speakers of the House. That position should be filled by one who has the knowledge, ability and relationships to create and push a strong conservative agenda. In Texas, that’s Ken Paxton.
Huck PAC and I are pleased to again endorse Ken, this time for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.
Soon to start his fifth term in office, Ken has twice been named “Texas Taxpayer Hero” by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. Ken proudly believes in the sanctity of life, and supporting conservative family values like traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Ken recognizes that the matters of social issues directly impact our economy, and I’m confident having Ken’s conservative voice lead the new Texas House of Representatives will result in some great accomplishments.
I hope you will join me in supporting Ken Paxton. Texas is fortunate to have him serving in the State House, let’s make sure we make him the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.