NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) — North Texans came together to support the Jewish community this week after the deadly Hamas attacks. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has endorsed four Republican candidates challenging state representatives who voted to impeach him. And the animosity between Texas Republican legislative leaders intensified this week after a report a conservative activist met with an avowed Nazi sympathizer and antisemite.
Jack breaks down these stories and more in the latest edition of Eye on Politics (original air date: Oct. 12).
Every week, CBS News Texas political reporter Jack Fink breaks down some of the biggest political stories grabbing headlines in North Texas and beyond. Watch the latest episode of Eye on Politics in the video player above and stream new episodes live every Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. on CBS News Texas.
North Texas shows Jewish community support following attack on Israel
As of Thursday, Israel's military reported Hamas' attack had killed more than 1,200 people, including at least 27 Americans. More than 1,500 people have been killed in Gaza in Israel's counterattack.
While the full scope of the atrocities against Israelis and the counterattack in Gaza continues to unfold, North Texans have come together to show their support for Israel and the Jewish community.
In Dallas Tuesday night, around 2,000 people came together for an interfaith gathering of solidarity and support for Israel and the Jewish community at Temple Emanu-El in North Dallas.
"They took out the Jews and they murdered them just because they were Jews... that's exactly what has happened," attendee Jorge Poliak said.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson were both in attendance Tuesday. And the next day, Dallas City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning Hamas and showing support for Israel and the Jewish community.
Watch Jack's one-on-one with Sen. Cruz below. They discuss the Israel-Hamas war, his bid for reelection and the ongoing tension between House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
A community event in support of Israel was also held in Fort Worth on Tuesday. And both the Texas House and Senate passed resolutions supporting Israel and condemning Hamas.
What is Hamas and what is its purpose? Here are some facts about the organization:
- The U.S. Government designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in Oct. 1997.
- The Council on Foreign Relations said Hamas' charter from 1988 calls for the destruction of Israel.
- The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center said the group is committed to armed resistance against Israel ad the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel's place.
- Hamas primarily operates in Gaza and in 2007, the terror group ousted the Palestinian Authority from power.
- The U.S. Government said Hamas receives material and financial support from Iran.
- Under federal law, it's illegal for Americans to knowingly provide material support resources to such groups.
Jack also spoke to Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Fort Worth about the Israel-Hamas war. Watch their discussion below.
Animosity between Lt. Gov. Patrick and House Speaker Phelan
Tension between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan intensified this week as the third special legislative session kicked off in Austin.
The sparring came after a Texas Tribune report said former Republican state lawmaker Jonathan Stickland of Tarrant County met for hours Friday with Nick Fuentes, an avowed Nazi sympathizer and antisemite.
Phelan issued a statement Monday that said in part:
"This is not just a casual misstep. It's indicative of the moral, political rot that has been festering in a certain segment of our party for far too long. Antisemitism, bigotry and Hitler apologists should find no sanctuary in the Republican party. Period."
He then called on Patrick, the Texas GOP and others who've received money from the PAC, to donate it to charity.
The lieutenant governor responded Monday in a statement:
"Nick Fuentes and his antisemitic rhetoric have no place in the United States.. For anyone to try to use these invectives for their own political gain is below contempt. I am calling on Dade Phelan to resign his position before the House gavels in this afternoon."
On Wednesday, Patrick released an additional statement, saying he had spoken with Tim Dunn, a principal funder of Defend Texas Liberty PAC, and that Dunn called the meeting between Stickland and Fuentes a "serious blunder." He went on to say:
"This is an orchestrated smear campaign by a failed Speaker, Dade Phelan. He is desperate to deflect attention from his failure to pass conservative legislation that the people of Texas want and deserve."
Defend Texas Liberty PAC also responded to Phelan:
"We reject Speaker Phelan's effort to combine Defend Texas Liberty PAC with Nick Fuentes. We oppose Mr. Fuentes' incendiary views."
Jack was unsuccessful in contacting Stickland.
Debate over using taxpayer funds for private school
With the start of the third special legislative session at the Texas Capitol, one of the major bills state lawmakers will begin debating involves whether taxpayer money should be used to pay for students to go to private schools.
Supporters call it school choice, while opponents call them school vouchers.
Republican State Senator Brandon Creighton of Conroe introduced Senate Bill 1 Monday evening. The $500 million bill would provide students who qualify $8,000.
Hear from Sen. Creighton below.
Also under SB 1, parents would be able to use that money for tuition and fees, purchasing of textbooks along with uniforms, transportation and private tutoring.
The private schools must be accredited in order to participate.
Those eligible include public and private school students and those entering kindergarten or pre-kindergarten for the first time.
Those students who are in financial need and who have a disability would be given preference.
Supporters say the public money would not come out of state education funds, but general tax revenues. Opponents say public schools will lose money when they lose students. Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether the idea will help or hurt students.
Sen. Creighton is in favor of the bill. He believes that the bill will benefit families in need, saying, "I think it's good for families, right. Our moms and dads around the state know much better than the institutions or schools or government on what's best for the education needs for their kids."
Democratic Senator Nathan Johnson of Dallas is on the opposing side of the bill, stating "public education is about students. I don't think vouchers are about students. I think vouchers are about elections. I think they're about motivating a base with a misleading narrative and undermining the institutions that, frankly, keep people together that do cause people to vote across party lines."
Hear from Sen. Johnson below.
Gov. Abbott didn't include teacher pay raises in the special session agenda, an item that's popular with both Democrats and Republicans. However, lawmakers say they want to increase teachers' salaries and public school funding.
On Monday afternoon, Sen. Creighton, who is writing the school choice or voucher bill, introduced a separate bill on public school funding in the Senate.
Senate Bill 2 is $5.2 billion, with nearly $4 billion of the funds to be allocated for teacher raises. There would be a $3,000 increase across the board, but teachers in smaller school districts would receive a $7,000 increase.
We have not seen any legislation filed in the House just yet on teacher pay or public school funding. The question is: Will lawmakers be able to pass teacher pay raises?
Continued political fallout from Paxton impeachment
At the Collin County Republican Party meeting Monday night, supporters gave Attorney General Ken Paxton a hero's welcome weeks after he was acquitted by the Texas Senate of impeachment articles.
Paxton vowed he's going to campaign against House Speaker Dade Phelan and the Republican state representatives from his home county and another key county in North Texas who voted to impeach him in May.
"I'm going to be all over," he said. "I'm going to be in Tarrant County, and I'm going to be here. I'm going to be helping people raise money. We are going to take the Texas House back and we are going to clean house."
Paxton endorsed four candidates challenging the incumbents in the Republican primary this March:
- Allen Councilmember Daren Meis against incumbent Jeff Leach in the 67th House District.
- Chuck Branch, who's challenging incumbent Frederick Frazier in the 61st House District.
- Wayne Richard, who wants to unseat incumbent Matt Shaheen in the 66th House District.
- Abraham George, who stepped down as the party chair, to run against incumbent Candy Noble in the 89th House District.
Watch the full report below.
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