In case you thought the bout of anti-Semitism in the Speaker’s race was over, think again. An email exchange between State Republican Executive Committee members, obtained by the Observer, shows some Republicans at high levels are concerned at the idea of a non-Christian Speaker of the House—sentiments earlier expressed by some activists.
“We elected a house with Christian, conservative values,” SREC member John Cook wrote Tuesday morning to other SREC members. “We now want a true Christian, conservative running it. This is not about Straus, this is about getting what the people want.”
Cook may claim it’s not about Straus—but as the state’s first Jewish Speaker, Straus does not meet Cook’s minimum qualifications.
A few weeks ago, folks began getting concerned about anti-Semitism in the Speaker’s race, as allegations rose up that some groups were relying on “dog whistle” tactics to distinguish between Straus and his challengers, Ken Paxton and Warren Chisum—both of whom are vocal Christians. Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report posted the emails, all of which were either anonymous or from activists, that called for a “Christian” speaker. At the time, Kronberg said, “the so-called grassroots effort has crossed over the line.” Shortly thereafter, Paxton and Chisum, as well as a variety of anti-Straus groups, condemned any anti-Semitism.
But Cook’s emails shows the debate is far from over. As an elected member of the state GOP’s governing board, he’s one of Straus’s highest-level opponents. While Cook himself did not respond immediately to the Observer‘s phone calls, Rebecca Williamson, another SREC member, confirmed that she received the email, which she called “deplorable” and “way over the top.”
Cook was responding to Williamson’s email request (see below) that “no matter whether you take sides in this or stay neutral, you will all remember that we are all on the same side.” She had criticized the recent anti-Straus video from former state party vice-chair David Barton, and she included a fact list about Straus indicating that the current Speaker is pro-Life and conservative. (For brevity’s sake, we did not include the fact list.)
“It’s important that we show respect for everybody,” Williamson told the Observer. “Everybody should be able to speak openly without feeling, number one, that a reporter is going to call us because we’ve dared to go up against this ultra-conservative machine.”
Cook’s exchange with Williamson is printed below, with email and phone numbers redacted.
Many of you have received the video put out by David Barton. I hope that, no matter whether you take sides in this or stay neutral, you will all remember that we are all on the same side. The democrats are giggling in glee as we take the rhetoric to new highs (or lows, as the case may be.) We all need to work together at the end of the day, so we really do need to take that step back for a reality check – as Republicans we base our decisions on logic and facts, not emotion. I believe it is important to have all the information.
Thank you, Rebecca
State Republican Executive Committeewoman, SD 24
TFRW Vice President Programs
I agree that we need to be respectful of each other and that we need to tell the truth about the facts. Knowing the facts, I have to take exception to the response to David Barton’s message and your contradictions of Mr Barton. And I say yours, because you are resending it, therefore, you must agree with it. How can you say work together and then demonize a great Christian, conservative.
Two really quick items come to mind. First, I know both Larry Phillips and Bryan Hughes and think highly of both. If they say something, I believe them! I talked to Larry, just a few minutes before he walked into the committee meeting to testify. I told him I was greatly disappointed in his phone call to Bryan Hughes and that he was not following the Christian conservative approach to politics we as Christians were to follow. And that to make amends he had to drop his support for Straus and go with a more conservative choice. In our conversation, he never said he didn’t do it. He also didn’t take the oath at the committee meeting and Bryan Hughes did. That disappointed me also.
Secondly, your analogy of comparing the senate to the house is preposterous. The senate is historically less conservative than the house by more than the 20 point difference you sight, apples and oranges. Also the Democrat chairmen under Straus is 16 D’s and 18 R’s of 34. Under Craddick his first session is 12 D’s and 27R’s. The second session under Craddick was 10 D’s and 31 R’s. The 3rd session under Craddick, his last, 11 D’s and 29 R’s. Where are you guys getting your FACTS?
And I have only started looking at your FACTS. But if your not accurate in these, why should I believe the rest.
Straus’ record is not conservative. Period!!
Straus’ pro-life. Wrong!!! Why do you not talk about recorded vote 672 right before the vote you sight, 676? When he was voting against the Republicans and with almost all the Democrats. You can’t just believe someone when he says he is pro-life. There needs to be confirmation!
Also, if Straus wants to caucus, all he has to do is call the caucus. Has he done that? He has a supermajority you say. I want to see the voting take place by Republicans who own the house at this point and I mean conservative Republicans. We will see who votes for Straus.
WE elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it. This is not about Straus, this is about getting what the people want.
I have seen the list of 5300 conservative leaders across the state against a moderate and for a conservative, now show your list of 4000 you speak about! Then show me your list of 130 reps that support Straus. Or is Straus wanting a floor fight so he can be elected by the 51 Democrats again. Does this not bother anyone else but me?