Odell McBrayer

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Odell Lavon McBrayer​

(Texas attorney, Christian layman,
and Republican politician)

Born August 16, 1930​
Lakeview, Hall County
Texas, USA
Died March 18, 2008 (aged 77)​
Idabel, McCurtain County, Oklahoma

Resting place:
Canfield Cemetery in Idabel​

Political Party Republican; candidate for nomination for governor of Texas, 1974​
Spouse Mary McCurtamn McBrayer​

Scott McBrayer
​ Tim McBrayer
​ Stacy McBrayer Torrellas
​ Barbara McBrayer Hendricks
​ Lorie McBrayer Gibbons​

Religion Southern Baptist


  • Though he made a weak showing in the 1974 Republican primary for governor of Texas, McBrayer was a precursor of the "New Right" in American politics.​
  • As a candidate, McBrayer advocated the televising of executions to increase the effect of deterrence on criminals.​
  • McBrayer grew up in Donley County in the Texas Panhandle, but he practiced law for years in Fort Worth.​

Odell Lavon McBrayer (August 16, 1930 &nash; March 18, 2008)[1] was a Fort Worth attorney, Christian layman, and a conservative Republican candidate for governor of Texas in the 1974 primary election.


McBrayer was born in Lakeview, a small town in Hall County in the Texas Panhandle, to Odell Luke McBrayer (1907–1979) and the former Ola Gregory (1911–1987). He grew up in Clarendon in Donley County and graduated from Clarendon High School. McBrayer was a veteran of the United States Air Force, having been trained in Florida and stationed for his entire service at the former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock. He was a member of the American Legion. McBrayer initially attended Clarendon College, a community college, and subsequently received his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.[2]​ ​


A lawyer for thirty-three years, he served for a time as an assistant district attorney in the Fort Worth area and ran unsuccessfully for a state district judgeship. He was a member of the American and Texas bar associations. In 2002, he became affiliated with the First Baptist Church in Idabel, Oklahoma, upon his retirement from his law practice when he and his wife, the former Mary McCurtamn, moved there to be near their son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Debbie McBrayer. He was a chaplain of the Bible-distribution group, the Gideons International in McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma.[3]

Gubernatorial race

In 1974, McBrayer, who adapted the poster theme "Texas Must Have Odell McBrayer for Governor"[4] ran in the party primary against the establishment choice, James Harlan "Jim" Granberry, Sr. (born 1932), a dentist who had served as mayor of Lubbock for a single term from 1970 to 1972, and had been responsible for directing the rebuilding after the deadly Lubbock tornadoes struck on May 11, 1970. Granberry was a favorite of then United States Senator John Tower, once a conservative but a Moderate Republican by the end of his Senate tenur. McBrayer attracted national attention in his race when he called for the televising of executions in Texas to provide a greater deterrent to the commission of violent crime. McBrayer said: "I favor televising executions only if not done offensively."[5]

McBrayer's campaign could be viewed as the forerunner to the "New Right" movement which appeared just two years later to support Ronald W. Reagan in the Texas primary against sitting U.S. President Gerald Ford, the choice of Senator Tower and many other Texas party leaders. The Reagan forces were led by former Midland Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., former state Representative Ray Barnhart, and the Dallas-area party activist, Barbara Staff. By 1980, the New Right forces claimed a role in the nomination and election of Reagan as president.​

Granberry easily defeated McBrayer, 53,617 votes (77.6 percent) to 15,489 ballots (22.4 percent) in a low-turnout primary.[6] As the Republican nominee in the November general election, Granberry was in turn crushed by the incumbent Democratic Governor Dolph Briscoe, a rancher, large landowner, and banker from Uvalde in the southern Hill Country.

Death and family

In addition to his wife and son Tim, Brayer was survived by a second son, Scott A. McBrayer (born November 14, 1958) and his wife, Gaylynn McBrayer, of Fort Worth; three daughters, Stacy Torrellas and her husband, Dr. Carlos Torrellas of Jacksonville, Florida, Barbara Hendricks and husband, Matthew Hendricks, and Lorie Gibbons and husband, Tom Gibbons, all of Burleson in Johnson County near Fort Worth; four brothers, a sister, and eleven grandchildren.[3]

Services were held on March 22, 2008, at his last home congregation, the First Baptist Church of Idabel. He is interred at Canfield Cemetery in Idabel.[3]


  1. Odell Lavon McBrayer. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on December 16, 2019.
  2. Statement of Mary McCurtamn McBrayer, widow of Odell McBrayer, June 27, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 White Funeral Home : Lubbock, Texas. whitefuneralhome.com. Retrieved on May 12, 2015; no longer on-line.
  4. Ben Guttery Campaign Posters. Baylor University Library (August 27, 2003; no longer on-line).
  5. (1994) The Best, Worst and Most Unusual: Noteworthy Achievements, Events, Feats and Blunders of Every Conceivable Kind. Galahad Books, 1–125. ISBN 9780883658611. Retrieved on May 12, 2015. 
  6. Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, Gubernatorial primaries, 1974.

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