James A. Leonard, who died Sept. 12 in Lakeway at the age of 82, was one of the founding fathers of the modern Texas Republican Party. He was, in the early 1960s, the party’s first executive director, the architect of John Tower’s breakthrough 1961 Senate victory to claim Lyndon Johnson’s seat, and the guiding hand, as chairman of Associated Republicans of Texas, behind the GOP’s once-quixotic goal of taking control of the Texas Legislature.
“In Texas, 50 years ago Jim ushered in the Republican Party,” said Trey Newton, a Republican political consultant whose father, Norman Newton, ran ART, where for many years Leonard served as chairman.
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