On July 4, 1867, a group of men assembled in Houston to establish the Republican Party of Texas. Combatting entrenched statewide support for the Democratic Party and their own internal divisions, Republicans struggled to gain a foothold in the Lone Star State, which had sided with the Confederacy and aligned with the Democratic platform. In The Republican Party of Texas, Wayne Thorburn, former executive director of the Texas GOP, chronicles over one hundred and fifty years of the defeats and victories of the party that became the dominant political force in Texas in the modern era.
Thorburn documents the organizational structure of the Texas GOP, drawing attention to prominent names, such as Harry Wurzbach and George W. Bush, alongside lesser-known community leaders who bolstered local support. The 1960s and 1970s proved a watershed era for Texas Republicans as they shored up ideological divides and elected the first Republican governor and more state senators and congressional representatives than ever before. From decisions about candidates and shifting allegiances and political stances, to race-based divisions and strategic cooperation with leaders in the Democratic Party, Thorburn unearths the development of the GOP in Texas to understand the unique Texan conservatism that prevails today.
Wayne Thorburn is a former executive director of the Republican Party of Texas and the author of Red State: An Insider’s Story of How the GOP Came to Dominate Texas Politics and A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement.
A richly informed, crisply written story of the Texas GOP’s emergence, long isolation, and then rise to dominance. It’s a great read for any Lone Star State political junkie.
Historians will appreciate Thorburn’s attention to nuance and detail, but they will also benefit from his study’s impressive breadth. Replete with individual characters and behind-the-scenes battlefronts, this is, ultimately, a sweeping history that spans more than a century and a half of Texas Republican Party development. In search of insider information on the state GOP, scholars will undoubtedly reference Thorburn’s work for decades to come.
~Sean P. Cunningham
A valuable overview of the party's growth from its nineteenth-century roots to its twenty-first-century position of political dominance. Thorburn traces the contributions of campaign volunteers, party leaders, candidates, and officeholders as they helped to transform Texas politics. Anyone interested in Texas history will find this a valuable resource.
Wayne Thorburn's latest book provides a comprehensive history of Texas Republican politics from the party's founding in 1867 up to the present. For those who wish to understand Texas politics, it is a valuable and readable history that will be of interest regardless of one's partisan loyalties.
With a sure hand and a keen eye, Wayne Thorburn details the peculiar evolution of the Texas Republican Party, as it moved from 'relative irrelevance' to dominance of Lone Star politics.
Students of American politics will find Thorburn’s history valuable.
[A] granular blow-by-blow account...Political historians will appreciate the fine-grained details.
In presenting a long timeline with pivotal turning points, [Thorburn] offers a panoramic view of Lone Star politics...Thorburn aims for a deeply-researched take on how Republicans were for a long time the underdogs, striving for a definitive 'two-party' state until they gained dominance.
Thorburn’s book is most useful as a tightly organized, semi-official record of the party’s growth in Texas, written with apparent evenhandedness by a major participant in the state GOP. More significantly for non-Texans, it’s useful as a stimulus to reflection on the nature of partisan dominance and its potential decay or reversal.
~Law & Liberty
Thorburn provides a well-written, well-organized portrait of the origins, evolution, and political dominance of the GOP in Texas...Although not ignoring the major figures well known by the public, Thorburn’s work reminds readers of the importance of those who worked at the city and county level to ensure both voter turnout and the day-to-day operations needed to secure state-wide electoral victories. Thorburn’s history provides a model for those who wish to understand Texas politics and why the phrase 'Sold South' now best describes the Republican Party's dominance of the region...Highly recommended.
This is an enthusiast’s history...But it is also a soberly conducted and extensively researched scholarly work that should interest students of Texas political history and also of southern Republicanism...Thorburn’s history is largely one of party officials, activists, candidates, and officeholders...This approach makes the book a wonderful resource for who did what when.
~Journal of Southern History
Preface 1. Nineteenth-Century Republicanism 2. The Early-Twentieth-Century Republicans 3. Creager and Wurzbach: The Patronage Wars 4. From Roosevelt to Truman 5. The Eisenhower Years 6. The 1960s Breakthrough 7. After Goldwater 8. The Highs and Lows of the 1970s 9. Breaking the Glass Ceiling 10. The Reagan-Bush Years 11. George W. Bush and the Republican Majority 12. The Year That Changed Texas Politics 13. Bush 43 and Governor Perry 14. The Bush Era Transitions 15. Donald Trump and the Republican Future Acknowledgments Notes Index
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