The political climate of the 1980's was very instrumental to the formation of GCRW in 1990. The Carter years were devastating for our country in so many ways. Carter campaigned on the promise that he would create a Department of Education and the largest union in the US, the NEA, got him elected. He was not perceived as a man of strength with strong backbone and we suffered as a country because of this. Those very qualities that Carter lacked were what made Ronald Reagan such a breath of fresh air!
Many of us were busy starting our families at this time and barely paid attention to the political landscape, but as we had our children we began to become increasingly aware of the world in which we would raise them.
In 1982, an energetic young woman named Debbie Terry began to listen to Christian radio in Dallas and tuned in to a program called "Point of View" by Marlin Maddoux, a pioneer in conservative talk radio. He opened the eyes and the minds of many who found his afternoon program totally enlightening in the areas of education and grassroots politics. During the early 80's, Debbie was inspired to volunteer to work at polls during various elections.
Debbie also received an invitation to attend an educational conference that was sponsored by Eagle Fourm, Phyllis Schlafly's new organization, which featured Samuel Blumenfeld. Everybody sat at assigned tables and Debbie ended up at a table with newly elected State Representative, Sam Johnson.
Debbie joined Eagle Forum, and she immediately got "included" in the planning of a local educational conference that featured Phyllis Schlafly, Mel & Norma Gabler, Steve Bartlett (Dallas Mayor and future Congressman), Dick Armey (who was running for Congress), Marlin Maddox and Charlotte Iserbeet, who reported on the NEA's political activities. One of the big education topics was the sex education courses that were being introduced into the public school classroom.
This educational conference set up a "Sex Ed Curriculum" room that displayed various curriculums that were being used in different districts and that room resembled a "porn parlor". It was situations like these that drew so many young mothers into Golden Corridor to find out what they could do about the changing cultural climate and the affect it would have on their children’s world.
Debbie also met Cathie and Homer Adams at a training session for a crisis pregnancy center and Debbie invited Cathie to go to an Eagle Forum meeting with her....the rest is history.
As her involvement grew, Debbie realized that her ability to truly impact the system was limited. She and her friends knew that they needed to get involved in the Republican Party, but this would be new territory for them because they were ideologues and not partisans.
In 1988 the Republican Party in Collin County asked Debbie to become the Precinct Chair and Election Judge for her precinct. This was a pivotal year in Republican grassroots politics. During the Presidential Primaries, Pat Robertson ran for President. As it turned out, Pat's job was not to become President, but to be the motivating factor behind many Christians becoming involved in the political process, many for the very first time in their lives.
In March of 1988, thousands of people learned about precinct conventions and attended their very first one after the primary. In Collin County, they were successful at becoming a part of the ongoing Republican convention process.
Looking back, it was revolutionary that the new grassroots Christians turned out in the numbers they did, became precinct chairs and got themselves elected as State Delegates. Politics is a numbers game and this new group had the numbers to carry their philosophy farther along.
As in life, success in politics is built around relationships. It is significant that Debbie had already become involved a bit politically and to had begun to develop relationships with the long-time Collin County activists. While our message is very important, it is also very important to be able to develop and maintain relationships with all types of people in order to be successful in communicating the message. How can we hope to influence others for Christ if our own actions or lack of wisdom cause division? As women of faith, our highest goals are to reflect God’s love and principles in our lives as we work within the political realm. But politics for the Christian is not an easy task. Many of our principles are black and white and we do not like to compromise them; whereas politics is often the art of compromise.
During the summer of 1988, the State Republican Convention was in Ft. Worth and that is where Debbie became friends with TFRW District Director Harriet Armstrong from Collin County. At this convention, Debbie observed people she knew voting the wrong way on issues of grave importance to our culture. She decided that they must be uninformed or else horribly misinformed about all of the things she was learning from listening to talk radio.
As Debbie’s relationship with Harriet Armstrong continued to grow, Harriett both inspired and encouraged her to start a Republican Women's Club that could address the important issues of the day regarding families and education.
In April 1990, the inaugural meeting of Golden Corridor Republican Women was held in Debbie's house in the Collin County part of North Dallas with home school friends and friends from Eagle Forum. Twenty-seven ladies attended.
Golden Corridor's mission was to reach out to women between the ages of 25 and 35 in the N. Dallas area who lived between I-35 and Hwy. 75 north of LBJ known as the “Golden Corridor” and help them learn to effectively impact the Republican Party and our culture. According to TFRW's rules, a club needed 10 members to receive a charter. Golden Corridor chartered with 10 members of the 27 that showed up in April and the next month added 17 new members. By showing over 100% growth, they had already qualified for a TFRW requirement for an award.
Not only was Debbie Terry gracious and loving, she was shrewd! In order to truly impact the system, Golden Corridor had to make itself known and carry some clout. Under Debbie’s leadership, the club set the habit of consistently winning all of the awards that a top-notch club could win….the NFRW Diamond Award and the John Tower Award. During the 90’s, when Denise McNamara was President of Golden Corridor, we had nearly 600 members and were the fastest growing club in the National Federation.
Our size and growth helped strengthen the conservative voice within the Republican Party. Our presence also helped keep candidates and office holders on the “Conservative Reservation”, because the involvement of so many socially conservative women was not something that they wanted working against them.
In 1991 they young Golden Corridor Club threw itself into Sam Johnson’s race for Congress. Collin County was not yet the big Republican powerhouse it is today, and Sam was running against Tom Pauken from Dallas County in the primary. It was a sweet victory for the hard working Golden Corridor women when Sam won. Sam’s race was a real bonding experience not only among the members of Golden Corridor, but with Sam Johnson himself. A sizeable group of Golden Corridor members flew up to Washington, D.C. to attend Sam’s swearing in ceremony. He has always been a dear, dear friend to GCRW.
Debbie Terry had tremendous energy and working with her we all believed that the world could be a better place for our families if we would strategically invest time in the political system and try to have fun doing it!
Here are some of the members of Golden Corridor who grew to become successful and influential members of the Republican Party and our local culture:
Along with hundreds of trained grassroots activists who have impacted our government on every level. As Jessica Hulcy always said, “Many hands make light work”.
- Penna Dexter – talk show host who has worked with Marlin Maddoux and Kerby Anderson on the “Point of View” radio show.
- Denise McNamara – past president, former SREC from SD 16 and two-term National Committeewoman representing the state of Texas on the RNC.
- Jodie Laubenberg – past SREC from SD 16, former Parker City Councilwoman and currently serving her fifth term as a State Representative.
- Cathie Adams – President of Texas Eagle Forum and former RNC National Committeewoman from Texas and former Republican Party of Texas Chairwoman.
Let me encourage you to continue to let your light shine in the political realm and to work to be salt and light in this world by helping godly men and women get elected to office. Pray for them and their families continually. Let your involvement in politics be a witness to all of your integrity and your desire to make a difference for good. Let us work together to stand strong for what is right and good about America and for America!
Original information was supplied by Chris Davis.