Editor’s Note: the interview took place over Zoom on 7/12/2021 and has been edited for length and clarity.
Garrit: So, I have several questions that I would like to ask you. Firstly, can you tell me about yourself?
Kurt: Sure, I come from St. Louis. I’ve been here in the DFW area for about eight years now. I’ve spent my life in the Air Force. I was a C130 combat loadmaster. I’m the author of The First Three Months and Life After Deployment, which is about me and my aircrew being deployed for the first time as a reserve unit. I’m a leader. I’m a Catholic. I’m a go-getter. I like to get things done.
Garrit: Yeah, I actually ordered your book, and it’s coming in today. So, I’ll make sure to read it. You said you have a military background. How has that experience influenced your belief system? What effect will this experience have in your role as Governor?
Kurt: It’s pretty simple. We fight for the rights of American citizens. I’m here in Texas and, just because I am no longer in the military, I am here now to fight the Texas threats. We need to keep things moving forward on that to protect our Texans, the Texas-owned businesses, and not worry about the corporate world so much as other people have done in the past. With the leadership experience that I’ve taken from the military, I can now transfer that over to lead Texas, to do it the right way. There’s one other veteran running in this race, and I believe that in a position of this magnitude the person who sits in that seat must have military experience. The other thing I believe is they shouldn’t be career politicians and that is one thing I am not. I am not a career politician. I am just an average guy that likes talking to people and helping others.
Garrit: Yes, absolutely. First off, thank you for your service. Secondly, you’re running against Greg Abbott (a Trump-backed incumbent governor). You’re running against Allen West, Don Huffines, and Chad Prather. These individuals have more name recognition, political infrastructure, experience, and money than you do — as you said, you are truly an outsider in this race. What is your strategy to win the primary?
Kurt: You remember the old story of the turtle and the hare? Well, I believe this is exactly where I fit in. And, it’s kind of funny since my nickname flying was Cecil — if you remember Cecil the Turtle. I have a lot of support across the state. Even though I didn’t attend CPAC, I felt it was more important to be out there with the people of Texas. Everybody that’s at CPAC, I mean they had a great time and got to listen to a lot of great speakers, but we can do that on a daily basis. We do that a lot on Facebook now as it is. In my heart and in my mind I feel that we need to be out talking to Texans to get their thoughts and ideas. I can’t do this alone. I am not going to do it on my beliefs alone. I want to do it. I want to hear from the Texas people. They need to give me the thoughts on what needs to happen, to give us an idea. I don’t know everybody’s lives. But, if I get a feel for it, we can help everybody.
Garrit: You’re challenging Governor Abbott. Why should Republicans not support Greg Abbott? According to polling, he appears to have a lot of support within the party. So, why should voters reject Abbott?
Kurt: In my mind, Abbott sold us out. He sold us out in the big winter storm. Why would we have people on the ERCOT board that live out of state? That’s absolutely absurd. He sold us out during the pandemic. If you take a look at some of his big donors, some of them are Democrats from the 2018 run. Yet, if you look at it, the small businesses were the ones who were shut down, and not the big box stores, some of them who were donors to him. I thought it was quite a coincidence.
Garrit: Yes, it’s odd. It’s strange how that happens. But, I would have to agree with you. So, why not Allen West, Don Huffines, or Chad Prather?
Kurt: I’m not a comedian, I’m not a car salesman, and I’m not someone that’s going to use this job as a stepping stool. I’m an American, and I’m an Air Force veteran. Those are the two biggest things in my life that I am proud to say. I’ve been in Texas for eight years now. So, I’m going to say that I am a Texan. Some people may disagree, but I’ve been here long enough to see how this state is being treated. If some people lose this race they’re going to think “oh my God, my career is over with.” If for some reason, this doesn’t go well for me, I’m going to wake up tomorrow just as I did today. I’m hoping and feeling great that I’m going to get more support as we go. If you watch my Facebook page, you’ll see me gain support daily.
Garrit: So, outside of being a veteran and running for Governor, what is your job? What do you do?
Kurt: I love helping veterans. I’ve done that for a while. Veterans of Iraq and Enduring Freedom is something I started in 2009. We are getting ready to start fundraising to launch a mobile kitchen program to support our troops, veterans, and communities. I say communities because they are a big part of supporting us. If you remember, four to five years ago, when the big tornado went through Rockwall, we would have had this mobile kitchen up and running back then. It would have been nothing to get a few volunteers, go out to Rockwall, and serve comfort food to the folks that were involved, that got hit, or maybe the first responders.
Garrit: That actually leads me to my next question. I’m going to now focus more on your specific policy positions. As you have stated, you are a veteran. On your website, you mention that “we need to make sure that our veterans know their governor has their back.” So, how will you have their back and what problems do Texas veterans face today?
Kurt: If you’ve noticed, no other candidate has mentioned veterans, and as I said it’s big in my heart. The state stopped the free business registration for veteran-owned businesses back in January 2020. That’s one thing that I definitely want to bring back and keep… no fee… no $300 fee for the business of veterans. I think that does a couple of things. Number one, if a veteran is struggling as it is, wants to go into business, and can’t come up with the $300, he can still help his or her community and keep moving forward. The other thing I want to do is to make sure that some of our veterans, disabled or not, who may not be able to pay the tolls – if they have to drive two hours to a VA appointment, or what have you – should not have to pay tolls at all throughout the state. Something else I thought about too, on the healthcare side, is the folks that have served in the Texas Air National Guard and the Texas Guard. It makes me and our communities mad that the veterans are getting treated the way they are by the VA. What I want to do is try to come up with a program — a health program — for the folks who served in the Texas Air National Guard to be able to get a health card and let them go to whatever doctor they want to. I think that will ease up a lot of the VA hassle. I think our veterans will get better care.
Garrit: So, you mentioned in an interview recently with CBS–19 that you are focused on Texas-owned businesses and Texas-made products. What economic policies do you plan to pursue as Governor?
Kurt: There are certain businesses that should be given a lot more attention and help than they are given now, or maybe waived on taxes or public products or whatever the case may be. During the pandemic, I came up with an idea. A lot of small businesses were shut down, which hurt them, and it was nothing but a trickle-down effect with everybody. If you can’t go to a restaurant, you’ve got your farmers that were affected, because they’re not selling the product, and so forth, and so on. But, for example, if you take a percentage of the service industry’s sales tax that’s being paid to the state, put it off to the side. Let’s let the Texas-owned business owners apply for a grant to help them sustain their business. The money is there. It’s already approved, but there’s got to be certain requirements there. I think that is one step towards helping our Texas-owned businesses.
Garrit: Once again, as you mentioned on your website. You “oppose common core, that teachers should not be told what to teach (and should never come out of pocket), and that our education system must focus more on basic life skills like civics, trades, personal finance, home economics, and uncensored history.” How do you plan to accomplish this? What will Governor Schwab do about Critical Race Theory in Texas?
Kurt: Well, first of all, CRT needs to go away, period. I just saw a commercial with Amazon — some woman created a business enhancement program for black businesses. Look, that’s another step of keeping all of that in front of our face. We need to get rid of CRT. Everybody needs to be on the same page. The kids aren’t the ones bringing it up. It’s the parents. It’s the adults. We need to stop talking about it. We need to stop pushing that. As far as not paying out of pocket for the teachers and the parents, that’s another portion of that. If you take the actual retail sales, say of big box stores, take a percentage of that money that’s paid to the state and let the independent, public schools apply for grants. Maybe they need it for books, teachers’ salaries, upgrades, whatever the case may be. In my mind, if a student is going to public school, there’s a reason. I don’t believe a child should have to worry about paying for lunch. I just spoke with a lunch lady here in South Texas. She paid out of her own pocket because a student didn’t have enough money in her account to buy lunch. That’s crazy. Our kids have one job and that’s to go to school and learn. It’s not about worrying about lunch or school supplies. The parents may not be in a position to be able to pay for all of these books and supplies or whatever they may need. I think the state needs to take care of that.
Garrit: So, as you may know, there is a crisis at the border. What is your plan to deal with the crisis? What is your border policy?
Kurt: Everybody says we have a crisis at the border, but nobody’s really saying what they’re going to do. Abbott is saying he’s going to jail everybody. Okay, well, there’s more money out of our pocket, coming out of our taxes. What needs to be done is we need to tell these people across the border, if you’ve come across without any kind of documentation, weapons, whatever the case is, I think we need to be very forceful. In my mind, I would love to charge them as terrorists because they are knowingly and willingly coming over into our country without any documentation. If we go to Mexico, we have to have documentation. If we go to Canada, we have to have documentation. So, what makes it any different here? Just because the Biden administration opened the border does not mean that Abbott had to let them into Texas. They’re being put here on these buses and so forth, being shipped. I would have stopped those buses. I would have just held them for DOT inspections or whatever to at least send a message to Washington saying “hey, we’re not on-board with this.” But, to have them arrested and put in jail for six months here in Texas makes no sense whatsoever. We have better things to do. We have our own resources, you know, the military is starting to get involved. I quite honestly find it embarrassing for Abbott to ask for help from other states. I think it’s embarrassing for Abbott to ask for donations for the Wall. Texas needs to take care of itself. We have the resources and we need to move forward on that.
Garrit: So, election integrity, you know, is a hot-button issue right now in American politics. Governor Abbott called a special session and election integrity is one of the Republican party’s legislative priorities. Where do you stand on election integrity? What do you think needs to be done to make our elections safer?
Kurt: There’s a lot of people that I talk to that say “this is election day and that should be it.” It should not be two weeks or two months after the fact. I believe we should check IDs when we go to the polls. Now, that’s no different than anything else we do with the government. So we need that. I think there should be a timeframe on mail-in ballots — specifically for the military and maybe our senior citizens. Other than that, it seems like it is getting easier and easier for people to cheat on a lot of things. I don’t think that’s ever going to be able to get stopped. Somebody is going to figure out a way to do something if they really want to do it. But, my biggest thing is they need voter ID.
Garrit: Okay, so the abolishment of abortion and gender modification on children are Republican legislative priorities. So, what are your stances on both abortion and gender modification on children, and how do you plan to deal with these issues when the “Republican” legislature seemingly does not care about these issues?
Kurt: There’s an article floating around that the House Speaker, Abbott, and Dan Patrick took $250,000 from certain clinics that do just that. Gender modification is crazy. That just does not need to happen, period. A child is a child until they turn 18. Once they turn 18, let them make the decision of what they want to do. Other than that, it is the parent’s job to protect their child in every way, shape, or form until then, and by letting a child at 9 or 12 go through something like this… no, it will not happen. As far as abortion goes, I will tell you, I am adopted. So, I am definitely pro-life. I know that there are certain circumstances where you have to look case by case. I know there are other ways of handling unwanted pregnancies medically, but I’m pro-life. If I wasn’t adopted, or if my mom wouldn’t have gone through with the pregnancy then, I wouldn’t be here today fighting to be your next governor.
Garrit: So, how would you have handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you have done differently?
Kurt: I don’t think closing everything made a difference. I really don’t. Even now, with the vaccines, some places still want you to wear a mask or social distance or whatever the case is. Well, if the vaccine was so great, why are we still doing that? I would not have shut things down, period. No, we don’t want our economy to crash again. We want it to thrive. We need to be Texas. We need to be the first state to do everything and not be a follower. That’s what has happened throughout the pandemic. We were second in line following other states. Under my administration, if something ever came through, we would not shut down.
Garrit: Yes, absolutely. I wholeheartedly agree. So, that’s about all the questions I have. So, I guess my final question to you is do you have any final words?
Kurt: Yeah, Garrit, Kurt Schwab for Governor is a good campaign. We have a lot of great support. I am hoping to announce a couple of big endorsements here shortly. And, I think that will stun some people. Kurt Schwab for Governor needs your support. And, to hell with it, vote for me and go to my website kurtschwab.com and donate.
Garrit: Okay, yeah. Well, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down with me to interview. It has been a great pleasure. I’ll make sure to plug your website and book in my article.
Garrit Blizzard is the Editor-In-Chief of The Texas Horn. He is a senior studying government at the University of Texas at Austin. Garrit enjoys reading, listening to music, and discussing politics and economics.