Commentary: Texas GOP targets its own

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramSeptember 28, 2010 

Texas Republicans have nearly finished off the Democrats.

Now they're going after one another.

First, a ministers group led in part by Texas pastors criticized U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, urging Texans to replace him with a "Tea Party candidate" because Cornyn spoke at a fundraiser for gay and lesbian Republicans.

According to Scripps-Howard Newspapers, Cornyn told Log Cabin Republicans on Wednesday in Washington that "every person is entitled to be treated with respect, and I think part of respect is to acknowledge differences."

"We need every single Republican, every single independent, every single disaffected Democrat to help us fight the Obama agenda," Cornyn said.

That didn't match the message of an Ohio-based ministers fellowship, Cambridge Theological Seminary.

The group posted a Web letter calling Cornyn "pro-homo" and announcing that hundreds of Texas churches will "oppose you vigorously."

The letter is signed by founder David Paul. Two San Antonio pastors are among the elders.

Cornyn was also criticized by Lumberton conservative activist Peter Morrison and nationally by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who called Cornyn's speech "deeply troubling."

If John Cornyn is too liberal for Texas Republicans, then no mainstream Republican is safe.

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, is the newest target.

Two anonymous Twitter accounts opened last week criticizing Straus: "NewTXGOPSpeaker" and "RINO_Joe." (RINO is an acronym for "Republican In Name Only.")

Straus was chosen by a faction of Republicans -- some staunchly conservative -- who joined with Democrats to oust then-Speaker Tom Craddick.

Plano Republican Wayne Richard, a former House candidate, is speaking at GOP clubs and Tea Party rallies calling for Republicans to change speakers. State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, has left the door open to running.

Richard said he is not connected to the Twitter accounts. He said he opposes Straus because Straus' family is involved in horse racing and has supported education groups that also support "liberals."

"I think the speaker fits the definition of a RINO," said Richard, 56, owner of a website design and services company.

As the first Jewish speaker of the Texas House since 1841 and Republic of Texas days, Straus is not always favored by Christian conservatives.

"I didn't even know that," Richard said. "I just don't think he was elected in the proper manner."

Richard said he will be speaking to rallies all over North Texas.

"I find that people have a good handle on national politics but don't have a good handle on what's happening in Texas," he said.

He's definitely right about that.

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