— Dear Editor,
Mr. May, I read your article in the March edition of “Your Family” magazine and found it interesting, some of which was similar to my experiences in politics. I spent the first 17 years of my life in Oklahoma and did not know but one person that publicly admitted to being a Republican.
After spending about five years in the U.S. Navy, in late 1952, I returned to Oklahoma to attend college to study pre-law for entrance to law school. I enrolled in Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), majoring in Political Science for law school preparation. Having always been interested in politics, while enrolled there I became very active in politics.
At that time, there were not any students active in Republican politics, so I became very active in the Young Democrats. I was president of the Young Democrats and the campus campaign manager for both Gov. Roy J. Turner and U.S. Senator Bob Kerr in their re-election campaigns. Even though I considered myself to be a conservative, I was a Democrat because, as you indicated in your article, there really wasn’t any choice.
One thing that I never forgot was a comment from one of my political science professors that really impacted me. “If you are not a liberal (Democrat) during your youth, your heart is not in the right place, but if you are not a conservative (Republican) after maturing, supporting a family and paying taxes, your head is not in the right place.”
Always remembering that professor’s comment, I also was very active in both on-campus and off-campus politics while enrolled in law school at UT-Austin.
After graduating from UT Law School and settling in Tarrant County to practice law, I became active in the Republican Party. Living on the east side of Fort Worth, I assisted in forming an east side Republican club and served as its first president. I then joined with some other Republicans in 1961 in organizing a candidate team of republicans to file for every county, state and federal elected office for the year 1962.
I filed as a candidate for the Texas House of Representatives against longtime Texas House member Skeet Richardson. None of us got elected, which didn’t surprise any of us, but we did create a strong enough party organization that two years later, Tarrant County elected a Republican as state senator. I think she was the first Republican from Tarrant County elected to public office.
I was the Tarrant county yard sign chairman for a young U.S. representative named George H.W. Bush, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senator in 1964. Campaigning in that election gave me the opportunity to meet many prominent people in the Tarrant County area. I was selected several times by the Tarrant GOP leadership to pick up prominent people at the DFW airport and show them around our area. One of those persons was George W.H. Bush, who was then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1984, I retired from law practice and moved to Weatherford. (I planned on that retirement to be permanent, but due to my two sons and one son-in-law going to law school, it turned out to be temporary.) At that time there were only two Parker County elected officeholders that would admit to being a Republican, justices of the peace Faye Murphy and Susie Merkly. Believing it very important to get competent people in public office, some of my friends and I, including Roy J. Grogan and Roger Williams, formed an organization which we named Citizens for Good Government.
Our goal was to select good candidates for public offices in our area, encourage them to file for office and assist them in their campaigns. We did that for several years and were successful in almost every campaign in which we got involved.
In 1996, the late Preston Geren Sr., father of then U.S. Rep. Pete Geren, asked me to assist Fort Worth Mayor Kay Granger in our area in her election campaign for the U.S. Congress. Democrat (in name only) Rep. Pete Geren had announced that he was not going to file for reelection and Pete’s father wanted us to assist in getting a competent Republican to succeed his son in that office and his choice was Granger. So I assisted Granger in our Parker County area. As you know, she won that race and every one since then.
Then in 1998, a young republican named Phil King filed for the position of state representative and won. Bottom line now is that there are not any county-wide elected office holders that will admit to being Democrats! Question now, of course, as your article indicated, will the GOP be able to maintain unity enough to keep its candidates in office, or will the division in “the good old party” give the liberals an opportunity to regain office? Sure happened in 1992 when my Naval Academy classmate, Ross Perot, ran as a third-party candidate, which permitted some guy from Arkansas to beat George the 1st.
Earl King, Weatherford