Don Huffines is a conservative activist, former Texas state senator, and owner of Huffines Communities ─ a real estate firm in the Dallas area. He is currently challenging incumbent Greg Abbott for the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas. Mr. Huffines sat down with The Horn’s Garrit Blizzard for an interview.
Editor’s Note: the interview took place over Zoom on 7/19/2021 and has been edited for length and clarity.
Garrit: First off sir, I’d really like to say thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down and talk to me. The Texas Horn thanks you also. And, I’d just like to say that it is an absolute honor. I actually saw you speak at the YCT State Convention a few months ago, and it’s really good to have you here. I was actually talking to my dad the other day about the governor’s race and I was telling him that Don Huffines is the man we need in the governor’s mansion.
Senator Huffines: Thank You. I appreciate those comments and Hook’em Horns.
Garrit: Yes. Absolutely! Hook’em! So, first things first, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Senator Huffines: Well, I was born in Dallas and grew up in the Metroplex, and I’m a fifth-generation Texan. I’m a God-fearing patriot. I went to the University of Texas and graduated there in 1981 with a finance degree. I’ve been in real estate ever since — I actually got my license to practice real estate when I was at UT. I’ve been doing that ever since. It’s been very good to me. I have been married 34 years to a beautiful, perfect wife. I have five children — four boys and a girl. We homeschooled and raised them in a conservative Christian environment. I’ve been active, somewhat, in politics all of my life ever since I was a teenager. I was actually a member of the Young Republicans and other clubs at UT. I’ve been a delegate to probably a dozen state conventions, over a 25 year period on and off, and I was a delegate to two or three national conventions. Then I ran for office for the first time in 2014 and beat a 25 year incumbent — one of the most liberal Republicans in Austin. It was at the Texas Senate District 16 — the northern half of Dallas County. I was in the Texas Senate from 2015 to 2019. I got knocked out by the Democrats when they finished taking over Dallas County in 2018 and decided to get into this race several months ago.
Garrit: Speaking of taking on liberal Republicans, why have you decided to challenge Governor Abbott in the Republican primary?
Senator Huffines: Well, I can tell you, there are a lot of reasons. There’s a lot. Let me just start at the top. After serving in the legislature for four years — two sessions — and dealing with our Republican party for many years on the grassroots level, I realized that most of our Republican officeholders are duplicitous, to say the least. I mean, have you ever met a Republican that didn’t say that they were conservative? They all say that they’re conservative, including our governor. And guess what? Almost all of them are liars. They say they’re going to do this and that, then go back home to your district, and they ask for your money and vote. My biggest battle when I was in Austin was always with the Republicans. They work really hard not to be accountable. They’re going to go home and campaign one way, and they’re going to go back to Austin and govern a different way. They’re always concerned about making the Democrats happy and that is what our governor is about. He’s a 31-year career politician. That 31 years on the state payroll is the definition of a career politician. And what are they always interested in? Their career. He’s a RINO. We never get our legislative priorities done — our Republican legislative priorities. The Republican Party is clearly defined by our delegates to our state convention. It clearly states what our priorities are. We get one or two. Do you know why we don’t get them done? Because they don’t want them to be done. We could draw everything in Austin — the House, the Senate, the Governor — for 20 years, and every year we beg to get one or two done. They’ve got it the way they want it. I mean, is our border secure? Are our property taxes going down? Do we have confidence in our elections? Do we have term limits? Do we have education freedom? I can just go on and on and on. I am tired of being lied to. I think that the Republicans in this state are tired of being lied to. We’re tired of being taken advantage of, and that’s why my campaign is on fire. I’ve got detailed plans to solve those issues. We’ve got the solutions, and I’ve got the courage to implement them. I don’t need a job. I’m only doing this because the job is not getting done. I like to remind everybody that in the history of the state of Texas, I’m the only officeholder in the history of the state that never took one penny from the government — no pay, no pension, no per diem, no travel vouchers, nothing. That’s the same way I’m going to be as governor because I don’t work for the government. I work for the people.
Garrit: As you know, Governor Abbott has the backing and support of President Trump and, according to polling, he remains quite popular within the party. How do you convince Republicans to vote for you? What is your strategy to win the primary?
Senator Huffines: Well, I can tell you this, I’m not doing it to send a message or make a statement. I’m doing this because I’m going to win, and we’ve got a clear path to victory. We’re on it, and he knows that we’re chasing him, and we’re going to catch him, and we’re going to give him a retirement party. We’ve got the grassroots behind us — and that is the party. These are the people that will walk on coals for you. These are the people that are going to knock on doors for you. These are the people that are going to make the calls. We’ve got the resources to get our message out. That’s really important. Abbott has never faced a real primary opponent in 31 years. In 31 years no one has really had a chance to vote for anybody but Greg Abbott or donate any money to anyone else but him. He’s never had an opponent. I’m giving everyone an option they’ve never had and that’s to put a real Texan in there — somebody with courage, somebody that believes in and is willing to fight for our Republican party and not run away from it. I’m giving them that option, and I am really confident that Texans understand that this is a failed administration. I mean, the catalyst for me to get into this race was in the spring of 2020 when Abbott shredded our constitution. He put 3 million Texans out of work in one day. In one day, he destroyed more jobs than this state has created in the last 10 years combined. He destroyed tens of thousands of businesses because he is a know-it-all. He is an elitist. He listened to that lying Fauci up in New York and wanted to be the cool guy in the club. Then he closed our churches. He shredded everything about the constitution. I would have never done any of that because the constitution doesn’t give me the authority to do that. I’m here because I believe in our God-given liberties. I’m here to tell you that I, like most patriots, understand that our liberties come from God and not the government. And, the fundamental role of government, Garrit, is always to defend your God-given rights and that’s what I’m going to do as governor.
Garrit: Absolutely. So correct me if I am wrong, but I’ve seen recently on your social media that you’ve been hanging around with Ron Paul. Has Ron Paul endorsed your candidacy for Governor?
Senator Huffines: He hasn’t yet. I haven’t asked him yet. But, I’m very good friends with Ron and was just with him this weekend as a matter of fact. I’m very good friends with Rand Paul as well. I also supported them in their campaigns for many years. I supported Rand and had fundraisers for him when he was in his primary in Kentucky running for the Republican nomination. Of course, the general election also.
Garrit: Well, hopefully, you can get the endorsement because Ron Paul has certainly had a tremendous impact on my political views. I think that his endorsement would really speak volumes about your candidacy…
Editor’s Note: Rand Paul has since endorsed Don Huffines for Governor of Texas. As of July 28th, Ron Paul has not publicly stated his position on the gubernatorial race.
Garrit: …but you mentioned previously that our legislature won’t pass Republican party legislative priorities. As you know, Speaker Phelan has given leadership positions to Democrats within the Texas House. The Republican legislature, as you mentioned, has failed to pass many Republican legislative priorities from abolishing abortion and gender modification on children to ending taxpayer-funded lobbying. How do you plan to enact conservative policies when our own Republican legislature won’t?
Senator Huffines: Well, that’s a good question and I appreciate that question. One thing that I know is how big the toolbox is. You know, Abbot has never been in the legislature. He’s a judge. He’s an attorney. He’s never been in there and served with them — I have. Unfortunately, many of those people are still there. So, I know what they want and how they operate. Let me give you an example that might just answer your question: Abbott called a special session because he couldn’t get stuff done during the regular session, right? Well, right there at the end of the regular session, he was trying to get this voter bill done and what did the Democrats do? They left and broke the quorum. Well, you know what his response was to that? He signed over 300 of their bills into law. Then he approved the budget they all voted for. I mean, you would have to be an idiot to do that. He lost all of his leverage. Everybody knew that if he called a special session they were going to do the same thing. I mean, this is just another example of his failed leadership. He allowed those folks, the Democrats, to lead the state of Texas. He allowed this issue to take place. He is such a weak leader. Everything starts at the top. Everything starts with the governor. It starts with leadership — courageous leadership — and that’s what my campaign is always about. It’s about leadership and no excuses — courageous leadership. Do you know why they don’t get our legislative priorities done, Garrit? It is because they don’t want them done. So, the only logical conclusion an intelligent person can come up with is they’ve got it the way they want it — they control everything. 30% of the committees or so in the House are run by Democrats, and they’re going to let the Democrats run everything and pass hundreds and hundreds of Democratic bills. Well, they’ve got it the way they want it. They don’t care about the Republican bills. Have you ever seen Greg Abbott talk about our party platform? Have you ever seen him mention it or hold it up? Our legislative priorities are put together by tens of thousands of Republicans. He doesn’t talk about it because he doesn’t believe in it — simple as that. They don’t believe in it.
Garrit: You’ve mentioned Abbott’s weak leadership and how he doesn’t believe in or care about the legislative priorities — border security is one of those. I interned this past session for Representative Bryan Slaton and, I forgot the exact bill number, but Representative Slaton introduced a bill that would provide funding for the border wall. I remember that Chris Paddies, who is my State Representative, would not bring the bill for a vote. Abbott seemingly didn’t care about the border at the time the bill was introduced, but now you see that he does care about it — or at least he is talking a lot about it. So, what is your plan for the border?
Senator Huffines: First, I would remind your readers that what you said was true. Paddie or whoever might stop some of these bills, but that message is from the governor’s office. The Governor is the one who kills these pieces of legislation, but he gets House members to take the fall. I mean he’ll tell the Speaker to go find someone to take the fall. Look, Abbott’s a political windsock. He’s only coming out to build a wall because he took it from my website and then he decided “well, that was a good idea.” Now, he’s talking about building a wall with donor money for like 50 feet or something silly. Then he’s going to use $250 million to build maybe 15 to 20 miles of a wall. My border plan is very simple. I’m going to build hundreds of miles of that wall and we’ll come up with the billions of dollars we need to do it because this is Texas. We spent billions of dollars on illegal immigration and the cost of that is put on Texas taxpayers every year. The most significant thing I am going to do is enact Article 1 Section 10 of the United States Constitution — by the way, you can read all of this on my website. Article 1 Section 10 of the US Constitution clearly gives governors the authority to do whatever they need to do to stop this invasion — we think 2 million illegals are going to flood into Texas in a 12 month period. Almost every single one of them is smuggled in by the cartels, the most dangerous criminal organizations on Earth, and arguably they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars on this monthly. I’m going to engage the entire Texas military, all 20,000 of them, and I’m going to put them on the border. We’re going to enforce immigration law. I’m going to close all 25 bridges for inbound commercial traffic and make sure Mexico suffers and that they’re going to secure their side of the river — or I’m not opening it back up. I’m telling you when they come across I’m putting them in the buses and I’m driving them right back. This is an invasion and we’re going to stop it. I’m going to stop it. I’m going to do in 30 days what nobody in this country could do in the past 30 years. I do want to emphasize this. The only hope we have at securing the United States border rests with a courageous Texas governor. That’s the only hope we have. The federal government has not and will not secure that border. I will never ask permission from the federal government to secure the Texas border. Let me repeat that. I will never ask permission from the federal government to secure the Texas border. This is our border. I’m going to take Texas sovereignty to a level that no one in this country has ever seen. Not in modern history and not in the 20th century. Texas is sovereign, and I’m going to prove it. That’s my border plan.
Garrit: Well, thank you. So, moving on to other policy stances, property tax reform is always a hot-button issue every election cycle. Yet, nobody does anything about it. I recently read an article by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram stating that your plan is quote “not so easy.” They state that after your plan “the state government will be out $62 billion” and that “relying on a sales tax would put the government at risk because when an economic downturn strikes and people become unemployed, they will be less likely to spend money.” So, first off, what is your plan for property taxes? Secondly, what is your response to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram?
Senator Huffines: Well Garrit, I appreciate you asking that question because the reporter never called me back for a rebuttal on that. I mean Texans are tired of renting their homes from the government — we are. Most people now are starting to realize that the government really owns their homes. You never own your own real estate. You don’t. You’re always renting it from the government — whether it’s a building or land or your ranch or your home. The government doesn’t really tell you what the rents are going to be. You really don’t have a say in it. All we know is it goes up and up every year and you never can pay it off. In urban areas, over half of the mortgage is in property tax. It’s going to go up and continue to go up dramatically. I’ve got a very clear plan to get it phased out and I’ve worked on it for many months before I announced I got into this campaign. I’ve got a lot of experts working on it. It’s really just a math problem. It’s a math problem and a political problem. That’s all it is. We know how much revenue comes in from all the property tax from every political subdivision in the state of Texas. We can take all of that and lay it out on a spreadsheet and we start playing with the numbers. It’ll take about 10 years to gradually phase out property taxes. The good news is everybody is going to get to vote on it. This would be a constitutional amendment. I’ll make sure that the legislature passes it that way so we can cut the head of the snake off and make sure it stays dead. We’re never going to have an income tax, but I’ll keep challenging the legislature to come up with a plan. The simplest way to look at it is that we’ll cap state spending, say at 2%, and then revenues grow at 7% to 8% going forward, we think, and revenue is going to grow at a higher number because this is such a stimulus for the economy. So we take that revenue growth and we use it to essentially buy down property tax and we shift some of the property tax revenue streams over into a sales tax, The sales tax goes up — there’s no doubt that the sales tax is going to go up — but after a period of time, sales tax will come back down. This is a much, much better tax. It’s a much more equitable tax because about half of property tax is paid by businesses. That’s why the economic stimulation of this and the economic liberty that is at stake is really unimaginable. It’s just unimaginable. So, all of those businesses now can redeploy that capital to hire new staff or for research and development. Just imagine what you can do with that kind of money for your own home. I mean, you could donate it to charity, you could go to a private school, you could buy a larger house, you could buy your first home because now you can qualify. So, this is beneficial for renters and property owners. And, to answer your question about how we come up with it. Look, just the growth in government revenue is several billion dollars annually over 10 years — that’s $40 to $50 billion. We almost make up the $60 billion that he is talking about. Then we move some over to sales tax. This is very doable. It’s very achievable but you’ve got to have one thing — you’ve got to have a governor that champions it. If the governor doesn’t want it to happen, you’re not getting to the one-inch line. I’m telling you I’m going to make it happen.
Garrit: You say: “Leadership. No Excuses.” How has Texas been lacking leadership? What excuses have Texans been given?
Senator Huffines: Well, they’ve been given excuses on every issue. You know, whether it’s property tax… I can show you clips from Abbott saying that since he was Attorney General… ask around and see if people think that their property taxes have gone down. No, they haven’t gone down. They just go up and up and up. I mean he’s got tons of excuses. He’s not being honest and he’s not living up to his campaign promises. What about the border? If Abbott wanted the border secure, he could have secured it six years ago, two years ago, six months ago, or six days ago. So, the only logical conclusion that I keep coming up with is that they’ve got the border the way they want it. They’ve got property tax the way they want it. I can just go all the way down the list on every issue, whether it’s election integrity — we don’t even know… we got millions of Texans that think our votes are being cheated and not being properly counted. And of course, they’re right.
Garrit: Yeah, so going back a little bit to property taxes, when you talk about property taxes a lot of people bring up education — education funding. What is your plan for education? What do you plan… you know Critical Race Theory is a very big issue right now… what do you plan to do about it?
Senator Huffines: Well look, I’m not planning on changing the funding formulas for public education. That’s up to the legislature. Critical Race Theory and other Marxist philosophies are obviously about dividing us. Marxism has been very good at that. They’re trying to divide us any way they can either by our sex, by our wealth, by our ethnicity, by our sexual preference, you name it. They want to divide us so they can curry favor and destroy us from within. That’s what they are doing and of course, I am against that.
Garrit: On your website, you talk about preserving “Texas values.” As you stated earlier in the interview you are obviously a family man. Do you support the abolishment of abortion? What is your opinion on gender modification on children?
Senator Huffines: Well, of course, on the second part of your question, I think it’s really shocking that we still allow gender modification on children under the age of 18 years old. It’s another example of failed leadership by our governor. That’s a simple piece of legislation. That should be outlawed — simple as that. It is just shocking to me that our governor doesn’t do anything about it. As for your other question, I’m pro-life from conception to natural death, and I’m for the abolishment of abortion.
Garrit: You mentioned election integrity earlier. That’s obviously another big issue. The Democrats in the state legislature have left the state over this. What is your opinion on this? What is your plan?
Senator Huffines: Well, I think it’s interesting that you don’t hear from our Republican leaders about what the real issue is. The real issue here is that the Democrats keep having control of the narrative that this is about voter suppression. Voter suppression is when millions of Texans think they’re being cheated and their votes aren’t being properly counted, because that means they’re not going to vote. I mean, what’s the point of voting if you think your vote is not being counted correctly. We can pass all the laws we want, and they’re all good, I mean, some of the stuff they’re coming up with on this bill is going to be great. It’s going to be good, but the most important thing… and that’s why my plan is what’s really going to work… is we have to have enforcement. We’ve already got a lot of laws on the book where you don’t have any enforcement. That’s why in the Huffines administration you’re going to see a new approach to it. I mean, just think about it, in Dallas County or Harris County or Travis County do you think a Democrat is ever going to be prosecuted for cheating a Republican? No, that’s not going to happen. The district attorneys are Democrats, the judges are all Democrats, and the juries are all Democrats. I mean, they’re all elected. They’d lose their primary if they brought that deal up. That’s never going to happen. So, I’ve got a great plan to be able to change venues from wherever this violation occurs. We’re going to have new judges and prosecutors. We’re going to have law enforcement involved to step in between the two parties because let me tell you, I don’t trust all the Republicans not to cheat either. This is a nonpartisan issue. Having confidence in our elections is the foundation of our constitutional republic. When that foundation cracks and breaks, all hell is going to break loose. We’ve got to get everybody confident — no matter what it takes. It doesn’t matter. If they can’t prove anybody’s cheating… that’s beside the point… the most important point is that people have confidence that their vote is being counted correctly. That’s what you’re going to get with a Huffines administration. I’m going to have law enforcement follow those ballots, be in charge of those ballots, and know everything about election fraud and voter fraud. They’re going to be there, hundreds of them, in each county.
Garrit: Well, thank you, sir. I have one final question. Do you have any concluding words for our readers, Texas Republican voters, or for the many young Republicans and Conservatives across the state?
Senator Huffines: Well, I would like to say this, that it’s going to be a new day for Texas. It’s a new chapter in Texas history. Our paradigm of the past does not dictate our future. When I say that our greatest days are coming, I mean it. I want to show the world what it means for Texas to be sovereign. We’re going to lose Texas. Texas is going blue. I really believe that because we have weak leadership in this state. Once Texas is gone, the free world is gone. That’s why this election is the most important election in the country. When I’m governor, we’re going to show the country and the world what it means to be sovereign. We’re going to buck up the other governors in the other states. We’re going to destroy the socialist. I’m going to seek them out wherever they live, wherever they vote, and we’re going to smash them because we have the answers. People want to be free. People don’t want to be told what to do. What is their endgame? We’re going to awaken Texans to what is possible in their life — the power of the individual — we’re going to make sure that patriots know they need to question the government to be a true patriot. True patriots always question the government. I can tell you that it is going to be a new day and our greatest days are coming. I’m the actual Republican running. I’m Don Huffines. [you can find more information about my campaign at] donhuffines.com. I’m on all the social media platforms — even the tweeter bird.
Garrit: Well sir, thank you once again. It was an absolute honor to have you here. I wish you the best of luck in your campaign. You have my support. Thank You. And to our readers, make sure to check out Don Huffines’s Website.