|Young Conservatives of Texas|
Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) is a non-partisan conservative youth organization based in Texas. Founded in 1980, it has chapters at ten universities—including Baylor University, the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Trinity University, Lone Star College, Texas Wesleyan University, St. Edwards University, and Texas Tech University.
A total of 177 delegates attended the first convention. YCT and its members participate in a wide spectrum of Texas politics, attempting to shape the policies of the state of Texas and the whole of the United States.
Young Conservatives of Texas was formed by a faction that split off from Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) in 1980.
The Texas chapter of YAF, led by student activist Steve Munisteri, broke off after a dispute with the national organization. The Young Conservatives of Texas was founded on March 2, 1980, (Texas Independence Day) in Austin. There was a convention held that day wherein Congressman Bill Archer, Ernest Angelo (former Mayor of Midland and former National Committeeman), and many others spoke at a gathering to launch the group. A total of 177 persons attended part or all of the convention. At the conclusion of the convention, it was decided that Young Conservatives of Texas would be founded.
A few selected events from the YCT history:
- March 2, 1980: Young Conservatives of Texas founded.
- 1981: YCT founder Steve Munisteri creates the Texas Conservative Victory Fund to support conservative candidates statewide.
- 1984: YCT hosts a "whistle stop tour" for President Ronald Reagan.
- 1986: UT Chapter Chairman Patrick O'Daniel and Executive Director Horace Cooper take over the UT College Republicans. Cooper is elected CR President and proceeds to not hold a chapter meeting all year long, thus allowing O'Daniel to recruit all the Republicans into YCT.
- 1991: On January 16, the Gulf War begins. On January 17, YCT holds a victory rally on the West Mall of the UT campus. UT YCT Chairman Edwin Sullivan and Vice Chairmen Andrew Panos (later State Chairman) and Cory Birenbaum coordinated the effort, which drew well over a thousand people, and was covered extensively throughout the State of Texas.
- 1994: YCT delegates to the Republican Party of Texas convention help elect conservative Tom Pauken as Republican Party State Chairman. Pauken won by fewer than 10 votes; YCT had over 25 delegates to the convention.
- 2000: YCT celebrates 20th anniversary.
- 2001: The event that never happened. Janet Reno was scheduled to speak at Baylor University on September 13, 2001. David Rushing and Steve Watson coordinated with the Branch Davidians to protest Janet Reno. The event was cancelled due to the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
- 2002: Republicans win control of the Texas House of Representatives for the first time since 1876. YCT Board of Advisors member Tom Craddick is elected Speaker of the House.
- 2003: UT Chapter Chairman Austin Kinghorn releases the first Professor Watch List detailing criticisms of UT professors who allegedly use their classrooms as a platform for their personal ideologies. State Chairman David Rushing appears on Good Morning America after an Affirmative Action Bake Sale was cancelled by the SMU administrators. The Texas A&M chapter protests US Senator Ted Kennedy on Campus.
- 2005: YCT celebrates 25 years. UNT chapter holds a Capture an Illegal Immigrant event on campus that gains statewide attention and begins to spark a debate on illegal immigration.
- 2006: YCT instrumental in Republican primary election in Texas House District 63, supporting Tan Parker, the eventual winner. State convention held in Richardson, featuring keynote address by Congressman Steve King (R-IA) on the need for immigration reform. Organization co-sponsors rally in Crawford, Texas supporting immigration reform. The UT Austin chapter held a bake sale opposing affirmative action.
- 2007: Annual state convention held in Houston, keynote address by author and radio host Neal Boortz. Minuteman Civil Defense Corps founder Chris Simcox hosted by YCT chapters at University of Texas-Austin, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Southern Methodist University. The UTSA event was shut down by hundreds of rowdy and violent protesters. The UT chapter hosts Dinesh D'Souza as a speaker to a standing room only packed event. UTSA welcomes back Chris Simcox to give the speech that was previously shut down. The UT Austin chapter has a nativity scene attacking same-sex marriage, religious freedom, and abortion rights and claiming that the ACLU supports terrorism, Leninism, Marxism, Stalinism, communism, and child pornography.
- 2008: Senior Vice Chairman Laura Elizabeth Morales appears on CNN and ABC World News with Charles Gibson to discuss the presidential election and speaks on a panel at CPAC to encourage young activists. YCT hosts 28th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, speakers included US Senator John Cornyn, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell. The Texas A&M chapter holds an "Anti-Obama Carnival", where eggs were thrown at the then-candidate's picture and YCT's interpretation of his stances.
- 2009: Governor Rick Perry and Former US Treasurer Bay Buchanan speak to the 29th Annual State Convention in Austin, Texas. The Texas Tech Chapter is awarded Chapter of the Year.
- 2009: YCT members from all across Texas gather in protest of U.S. President Barack Obama when he arrived at Texas A&M to speak at the 20th anniversary of George H.W. Bush's Points of Light Institute.
- 2010: The Texas A&M chapter of YCT was expelled from the organization after its unconstitutional endorsement of Rob Curnock, a candidate for the congressional seat in District 17, and several other internal disputes.
- 2010: The Coby Pieper Award for Conservative Dedication, YCT's highest honor, is renamed to the Coby Pieper and Brianna Becker Award for Conservative Dedication, in honor of YCT members Pieper and Becker.
- 2010: 30th anniversary convention held in Austin, TX; Baylor University receives the Chapter of the Year distinction.
- 2010: YCT Founder Steve Munisteri is elected Republican Party of Texas Chairman after an aggressive campaign by YCT members and alumni.
- 2013: The UT Chapter of YCT attempted to host "Catch an illegal immigrant" on campus, which caused a strong backlash from the University, with their Chapter Chairman Lorenzo Garcia having to cancel the event.
List of State Chairmen
- Steve Munisteri: 1980
- Gary Nelson: 1981
- Greg Robertson: 1982
- Frank Reilly: 1982 - 1986
- Richard Munisteri: 1987
- Paul Bartley: 1988 - 1989
- Sharin Shafer: 1990 - 1991
- Scott Gaille: 1991 - 1992
- Andy Panos: 1992 - 1993
- Shawn Roberts: 1993
- David Guenthner: 1994
- Robert Johnson: 1994 - 1996
- Robert Means: Spring 1996- 1997
- Fred Tate: 1997- January 1999
- Liz Farrell: Spring 1999
- Brent Tantillo: June 1999 - December 2000
- Chris Allen: January 2001 - March 2003
- David Rushing: April 2003 - February 2005
- Randy Samuelson: March 2005 - July 2006
- David White: August 2006 - September 2009
- Elizabeth (Young) White: September 2009 – November 2011
- Jeff Morris: November 2011 – April 2017
- Caroline Chadwick: April 2017 – December 2018
- Saurabh Sharma: January 2019 – Present
YCT alumni in politics
YCT alumni can be found working in a number of political capacities, and several members and alumni have successfully run for public office. A partial list can be found below.
- Will Hartnett, Texas State Representative
- Jeb Hensarling, U.S. Congressman
- Bryan Hughes, Texas State Senator
- Tan Parker, Texas State Representative
- Harvey Hilderbran, Texas State Representative
- Dwayne Bohac, Texas State Representative
- Jodie Laubenberg, Texas State Representative
- Rand Paul, Kentucky U.S. Senator
- Steve Munisteri, Deputy Assistant to President Trump, Deputy Director for the Office of Public Liaison, and Former Republican Party of Texas Chairman
Protests and demonstrations
Some YCT chapters have garnered media attention from their often deliberately controversial protests. These demonstrations have included such events as the American Civil Liberties Union Nativity scene, Affirmative Action Bakesales, Catch an Illegal Immigrant, playing Rush Limbaugh on a PA System "because we can," and protesting Ted Kennedy's reception of the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. The Texas A&M YCT chapter has also conducted mock wedding ceremonies with things such as bicycles, books, and animals to protest against Obergefell v. Hodges.
Endorsements and campaign
Each election cycle, members of YCT meet with candidates for office in the state of Texas to conduct interviews to determine that candidate's adherence to conservatism. Based on these interviews, YCT offers its official endorsement of the candidate in each race who it believes to be the most conservative. Members then campaign for the endorsed candidates in their respective races. The endorsements are decided by the board of state officers and chapter chairmen from each university. Individual chapters are not allowed to issue endorsements.
Rating the Texas Legislature
YCT has consistently rated the Texas legislature going back to the 1975 Legislative Session. In doing so, Young Conservatives of Texas has now compiled 38 years worth of ratings of the Texas Senate and Texas Legislature which track the ideological shift in Texas political parties over that time.
On October 1, 2013 the Young Conservatives chapter at UT Austin held a bake sale to show the effects of affirmative action on minorities. Prices were different depending on the person's race. The head of the chapter Lorenzo Garcia said they wanted to show how affirmative action can be more harmful then helpful and said it can cause reverse racism. However, it received negative reactions even from the school's own news columnist. Pavel Nitchovski, a columnist at the Horn, a local newspaper that covers UT Austin said "What’s so sad about this whole bake sale (aside from its utter tastelessness and caricaturization of a very serious issue) is that the people involved actually think that they’re making a valid intellectual point with their childish actions," Nitchovski wrote. "They are convinced that rather than behaving like attention-seeking children, they are genuinely starting an intellectual discourse." 
The next month, the same chapter made national headlines when they proposed an on-campus game called "Catch an Illegal Immigrant," involving students in red shirts that said Illegal Immigrant whose capture would net a player 25 dollars. They cancelled plans after criticism from other students, the administration, and state attorney general Greg Abbott, a Republican. This time chapter head Garcia said, "The idea for the event was intentionally over-the-top in order to get attention for the subject."
- "YCT Chapters".
- "About YCT".
- "Interview with Steve Munisteri".
- "Second YCT Anti-Obama Carnival Draws Crowd Of Protesters To Texas A&M". CBS News. November 4, 2008.
- "Press Releases". Points of Light. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
- "YCT Legislative Affairs".
- "Texas young conservatives group cancels 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant' game". NBC News. Nov 19, 2013.
- Kingkade, Tyler (October 1, 2013). "Conservative Students Think Affirmative Action Bake Sale Is A Good Idea". Huffington Post.