The McLennan County Republican Party was first organized in 1954 and held the first ever Primary Election for the county that year. However, this was done without any initial success, and things were pretty tough for the first several decades. In the very early years, an established inner core of the Party emerged through the dedication, hard work, and tenacity by such folks as Jesse Milam, Harry Trippet, Doug DeCluitt, and especially Walter Smith. For the first primary in 1954. and several thereafter, there were no local down ballot Republican candidates for McLennan County. Only candidates who were properly registered (through the Texas Secretary of State) for president/vice president, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and various state wide candidates were on our Primary ballot.
But still, the number of Republicans who were active was very small and Republicans were definitely in the minority. It was Harry Trippet that coined the phrase that "The McLennan County Republican Party could easily hold its county convention in a phone booth!"
In those early Party years, many discussions were held regarding potential local candidates. The hard work and dedication by Walter Smith and others regarding consistency in having primary elections was evident in bringing the county Republican Party structure into full bloom. The establishing of a sound, viable and dependable political party in those early years enabled McLennan County to have great success through the years as other outstanding chairmen and strong candidates stepped up to the plate. Additional praise is owed to the many other county chairs who were able to stay so dedicated in the past. The strong desire at that time was to help make Texas a "two-party" political state.
The first break in the stranglehold that Democrats held over McLennan County came in 1981, as local attorney Rollin Khoury won a seat in the State Legislature as a Republican. He held the seat for 4 years (1981-85), and then M.A. Taylor, a businessman and Vice President of Central Texas Freight Lines, took over the seat for another 4 terms (1985-93). These were the first two Republicans elected in McLennan County in over 100 years.
During that time, Ray Meadows ran as a Republican for County Commissioner in 1986, and was the first person to run on the Party ticket for a local elected office. He held his position with the county for an amazing 24 years. Given the many years of Republican desolation, having two elected Republicans in McLennan County at the same time seemed like a huge achievement!
When MA Taylor retired from the State Legislature, he ran for McLennan County Republican Party Chairman in 1994, and held that position for 14 years (until 2008). MA and his wife Virginia became synonymous with Republican Politics in the county, and were extremely successful at steadily growing the party, filling precinct chair positions, and even growing Republican Auxiliaries like the McLennan County Republican Men's Club (now just called the Republican Club) and Women's Club (MCRW), both of which still run today.
As far as county-wide victories, these came as Judge Ralph Strother was appointed by then Governor George W. Bush to the 19th District court, and he won re-election in 2000. At about that same time Larry Lynch ran for Sheriff and was the first county-wide Republican to win an open seat since Reconstruction.
The Republican Party in McLennan County has continued to grow throughout all recent changes in leadership, under Chairs Joe Hinton, Ralph Patterson, Col (Ret) Jon Ker, and Dr. Bradford Holland. The Party now boasts that nearly every elected official—our Congressman, State Senator, 2 State Representatives, and all of the County Commissioners (except one)--are ALL Republicans. The Democrats now find themselves in the same position the Republicans did 50 years ago!
My how times change for the better! The Party celebrated its 65th Anniversary at a Gala in 2019 that was highly successful.