Bill Clements and the modern Texas Republican party.

Bill Clements, one of the founders to the modern Texas GOP, died this weekend at the age of 94. Stories in the Texas TribuneHouston Chronicle, and Austin-American Statesman provide some flavor of the man and his impact on Texas politics.

Clements ran for governor as a Republican when Republican wasn’t cool–or “smart.” Texas politics was well-stocked with conservatives who clung to comfort of the Democratic party label that assured victory in most districts. Rick Perry, Phil Gramm, and many others still cashed in on the Democratic label. Clements and a handful of others realized that running away from the Republican party label on perpetuated the party’s second-class status. In winning election as the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction Clements lead Republicans out of the closet and into a productive role in Texas politics.

Today, politicians switch party labels for their political convenience. Clements’ claimed the Republican party when it was decidedly inconvenient.

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