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Cherry Tree Republicans History

In 1992 a group of like-minded individuals in Northwest Houston led by Lee and Becky James and Kelly and Marcie Fessler began meeting to talk about forming a new conservative organization. In the beginning, they met in the home of the James’ followed by a series of meetings in the home of Dr. Gene and Reina Fontenot. As a symbol of honesty and truthfulness, they chose to name the club Cherry Tree Republicans. Billy and Margie Moore, Bob and Sue Darbyshire, Mark and Bobbi Blackwell, John and Elvie Kingston, and Drake and LaJuan Cameron were among the early members. Soon afterward, Newt Gingrich issued his “Contract with America” and conservatives became determined to work together to claim a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. The timing for such an organization was perfect.

In reflection of the 20th Anniversary of Cherry Tree Republicans, Mark Blackwell (CTR president 1995-1996) wrote the following to Drake Cameron, (CTR president 2001-2002):

As I look back on those days, I sometimes become discouraged at what little we conservatives have accomplished over the years. The old problems are still the problems today. But it soon occurs to me that, as bad as things seem some days, how much worse would they be without committed conservatives standing in the way of the liberal machine? I am reminded of the way Bill Buckley described National Review in 1955 in its statement of purpose: “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” That is the history of the Cherry Tree Republicans, to be the ones willing to yell Stop.

You are not alone in yelling, and if there is a message with which I could encourage the Cherry Tree Republicans today, it would be this –- Do not yell less loudly just because others are yelling with you. Yell louder so that your voice will be heard above the fray. And yell together, because the unity of our voices was always our greatest strength.