Mike Hailey got it exactly right in Capitol Inside (November 17): A grassroots campaign by conservative leaders to overthrow Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has been severely undermined by an outbreak of anti-Semitic rhetoric from which the two challengers in the leadership fight are now attempting to distance themselves as much as possible. As State Reps. Ken Paxton and Warren Chisum sharply denounced attacks that have centered on the fact that Straus is Jewish while his opponents are Christians, the religious overtones in the battle for speaker appear to be reinforcing the incumbent’s support more than cutting into it as intended. Paxton also released a statement, published in the Morning News’ Trailblazers blog on Wednesday, condemning the emails: “There is absolutely no place for religious bigotry in the race for Texas speaker,” Paxton said, adding, “It is just as shameful for anyone to imply that I would ever condone this type of behavior. My campaign is singularly focused on a message of providing proven, dependable conservative leadership to the Texas House.” The statement strikes me as a little peculiar, as if he were trying to cast himself as a victim. Did anyone actually state or imply that Paxton would condone this type of behavior? Well, as a matter of fact (as a commenter who identifies himself as “Sidd Finch” points out), I did. Finch quotes what I wrote on November 16: “I don’t believe that Paxton and Chisum would send antisemitic e-mails. I do believe that they would remain silent while others do.” Another commenter, who identifies himself as “Jake,” (not a fan) suggests that I change the ending of the post. He was quite right in suggesting that the ending needed to be changed. Obviously, I have done so. But I am not going to change what I wrote above, because it is what I believed then, and it is what I believe now.
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