At the appropriate time on the meeting agenda I was introduced. I asked for permission to rent the use of a set of ballot boxes. My request was met by a sudden silence with a few snickers from the crowd. County Judge Weisinger, who was known for his southern drawl, responded- “Do you want the little bitty boxes”. The crowd erupted in laughter that seemed to last for minutes. But we did get the boxes. Then I had to go to the District Clerk’s office to request a set of stub boxes to receive the ballot stubs. The District Clerk seemed annoyed by such a request and he blurted- “I cannot even spell Republican”. On election- day one hundred five Republicans cast their ballots. And so the journey began!
Job one was creating a strategy to build the Party from the bottom up and not top down. We needed a headquarters, fundraising and candidates. A room in the State Hotel was donated for the Headquarters, a sustaining member program was created and candidates were recruited even if they were just volunteer Republicans. Candidates were met with the repeated chant- you cannot win as a Republican, but it was challenged by the chant- we need a two-party system in the county. Primary election turnout numbers slowly increased and in 1978 the first Republican was elected to a county office in over one hundred years- a Justice of the Peace, Pat Ruffin. Her slogan was -“Ruffin is Ready”. Aided by some party switches and additional candidates, the Republican Primary election turnout exceeded the Democrat turnout in 1988. The strategy was succeeding. But the best was coming. In 1994 there remained only one Democrat who held a county office, a County Commissioner. He was re-elected by a small margin and at his annual fundraising event, he announced he was joining the Republican ranks- it was “Republican or Retire”. Since 1994, no Democrat has been elected to a district, county or precinct office in Montgomery County and no Democrat candidate for president has won the county since 1968.
A host of Republican pioneer activists and contributors along with numerous dedicated candidates made all this possible. I was fortunate to be their leader and will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve. I wish success to the new team of Republican leaders and look forward to being a member of the team.