Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part interview with Mr. Sorrells. Part two, in which Mr. Sorrells and our correspondent talk about his specific policy proposals as Lt. Governor, will be published next week. The interview took place over Zoom on Friday, September 10, 2021.
Garrit: So, first things first, thank you for sitting down with me for an interview. Now, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Aaron: Yeah, I mean, I have a wife that I’ve been married to for about 17 years now—in December. We have three boys. One just started high school, one just started middle school, and one is in the third grade. I run a small business, but I don’t have a degree—just to be clear on that part. I pretty much worked my butt off my whole life. I tried to make everything that I could. I never really had anything handed to me and never really found exactly what I wanted to do. But, I’ve always worked hard and tried to make the best for my family. That’s kind of where I am at now. I run a small business. Our business has doubled in the last five years in a row. We’ve fought hard to keep everybody safe through all of this and do the best we can to take care of our employees. That’s pretty much it. There’s nothing really special about me. I’m just hard-working and living the standard American way of life.
Garrit: What is your business called?
Aaron: The name of my business is Blinds Brothers. We do window treatments, roller shades, shutters…that type of stuff. We also do exterior motorized patio screens and outdoor shutters. That’s our main business.
Garrit: So, how did your business react to the Covid shutdown? How has your business been doing now that we have entered the post-Covid/lockdown phase?
Aaron: Business has been great. It’s kind of a “catch 22.” As much as I hate Covid, it has been phenomenal for my business. We’ve hired 17 people in the last year. We’ve never told people what to do with their vaccines. We’ve never told anyone to put a mask on. We’ve allowed our employees to do what they felt was comfortable for them. The biggest problem that we are having is going on now. So, pre-Covid we were doing very well. Then, the pandemic comes around and at first, you would think “oh, I’m going to lose my business.” It’s also an election year, which is already a slow year for business. Then, you throw Covid into the mix—what are we going to do? How are we going to survive? Is this going to be 2010 all over again where we finally get our business rolling and then the housing market crashes? That’s what you worried about. You don’t know how many people are going to show up to work or if people are going to be getting money. Well, the exact opposite happens. People spend money because they are stuck at home. They spend as they’ve never spent. They had all of this money because they didn’t travel and they didn’t go out to eat all of the time. We got a lot of business out of it. Post-Covid, though, the issue is that our citizens and our consumers are misdirecting their anger at small business owners because they’re blaming us for delays. So, the government has put in all of these mandates, they’ve allowed people to sit on unemployment, and then provided additional childcare immediately per month instead of at the end of the year. And by doing so, the government scared the population into not going to work—especially the younger generation. That’s why restaurants are lacking people—they’re in fear. The restaurants need the part-time help of those kids that live at home with mom and dad, but they’re not going to work as they should. In the same token, manufacturing businesses need your average employee and right now they’re not going to work either. They’re milking the unemployment. So, what’s happened is we went from getting products in three to four weeks to now getting things at 16 to 18 weeks. I’ve got customers that have waited for six months now for a product. The customers don’t direct their anger towards the government, who deserves it, but towards us small business owners. That damages our reputation and is becoming our biggest problem now. So, that’s our current predicament and we’re trying our best to survive. Hopefully, none of us take too big of a hit and we can continue to get the product.
Garrit: Yeah, hopefully. So, going off of that, you stated that you have no degree, you’re a business owner, and you have no political experience. In what ways will these experiences shape your tenure as Lt. Governor?
Aaron: Well, I think the problem with the government as a whole right now is that they’ve lost touch with reality. I had a meeting two days ago with someone who has been in the system for quite a while, and they’re out of touch with reality. That’s the biggest problem we have with politicians. They don’t understand what goes on for people like myself. You know, I’m not a rich guy. I make a good living and I take care of my family. I’m trying to get there. I’m trying to grow a big business, so I can do things the right way and support it. That’s what you learn as a small business owner. It’s funny— I was told that I don’t have a resume, which is what you’re asking about right? Like, how does that get me to where I need to be? Well, as a small business owner, you have to wear pretty much every hat. I’m the website guy. I’m the marketing guy. I do payroll. I have to deal with my accountant. I have to run my business and do things that people who run big businesses don’t do. The Lt. Governor doesn’t have to go out and do every single project—he just has to focus on being the Lt. Governor. As a small business owner that now employs 26 people, I’m not only responsible for my duties, I’m also responsible for making sure that all 26 people that work for me and their families are taken care of. I have to make sure that my bills are properly paid. I have to make sure that I make a profit. I have to make sure that there’s money in my bank account to do what needs to be done. And that’s the difference between our government officials and being a small business owner—we know at the end of the day we have to be able to pay for what we want to do. We have to make sure that there’s money left to do the things we want to do and to grow and become better at what we do. So the government doesn’t do that. The government pretty much goes out and spends like drunken sailors and then comes back and goes “oh, who’s going to pay for that?” That’s not reality. That’s the problem with the government—they don’t view this as taxpayer’s money. This is not my money. This is something that people go out every day and work their butts off for. And we give our money to the government, not of our free will, we are forced to give it to the government. And with that money, the government treats it like we don’t matter. They treat our money like it grows on a tree—that’s got to stop! That’s the difference between coming from the typical political establishment—the people that go get their political science degrees and go to college—and the average public. And while I have no problem with college, we spend a lot of time training people to do things a certain way, and we don’t make them go out into the real world and understand what it’s like to deal with the average public and understand the feelings of the poor, the middle, and the upper class. They don’t have reality and that’s got to change. I think that’s where most people are getting to— that’s why Trump won. Trump wasn’t a politician. Yeah, he was a billionaire. He’s run businesses, but he wasn’t a politician. And he knew how to go in and do things from a business standpoint. And while that may cause me some problems in some ways, I’ll bet that the benefits of coming from this background are better than the benefits of coming from the other.
Garrit: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree with you. So, why have you decided to run for Lt. Governor? You know, a lot of people might say, might think, “oh, well Dan Patrick is supposed to be this conservative guy.” “We got the heartbeat bill, constitutional carry, and this election bill.” “Why on Earth would you challenge him?” So, could you elaborate on Dan Patrick’s conservative credentials and why you’ve decided to challenge him in this race?
Aaron: When I first ran this, I was “pissed off”. I knew I didn’t like how things were running. The Lt. Governor is the most powerful position in Texas. All I see, being a fifth-generation Texas, is my state falling apart. My state is not leading. We’re dragging behind Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem and other people when they stand up. Our state government is like “oh, we’re going to do something.” Well, you’ve said that over and over again and we continue not doing something. So, the funny thing about Dan Patrick is, I was told that this was the most conservative legislature in a long time—maybe ever. The Texas GOP, the precinct chairs, the county, we do our votes and we give our ideas. We give them our, you know, SB1 through SB8 for the Senate—because that’s what Patrick is in charge of. In this last session, and just about every session, the same game gets played. We kill a couple of bills in the House, we kill a couple of bills in the Senate, we blame the Democrats for a couple of bills, and then we water down all of the other bills. So, for a conservative, or, you know, you’re still in college, if you do a test and you get three out of eight questions right do you pass the exam? No, you don’t. So, if you’re a conservative and the conservative people of the state tell you that our priorities are one through eight, and you decide to just push them down and you kind of go around to get them. They got SB1 done— the election integrity bill. I don’t think that the election integrity bill goes as far as it should. We really should move away from some of the electronic voting systems because it is proven that we can’t trust them. We need to find a better effectively physical system and we need to look into audits and things like that, but that integrity bill didn’t address either one of those issues. So even that is still not to the level it needs to be if we want to trust elections. We got the heartbeat bill which seems like a very conservative bill. Great, but we asked for abolishing abortion. We didn’t ask for a watered-down version of abolishing abortion. We asked for abolishing abortion. We got a heartbeat bill, which puts the ability to sue privately on Planned Parenthood and the doctors and all these things. But I’m sorry, $10,000 didn’t go far enough to penalize doctors that are mutilating babies and selling their organs on the black market effectively and making plenty of money. The Planned Parenthood’s of the world get so much money from Democrats and our tax dollars, they’re not scared of this. So it’s still, even if you say great, it’s a good step, which it was, it’s better than what we’ve done. It’s still not enough, and the courts are going to tie it up. And then you get into the other one, which is the constitutional carry. And the whole idea that constitutional carry got passed is a joke because it’s still not constitution carry. As Robert West of the Five Star Plan said, it’s permitless carry. There are still countless variations or violations in there that will stop us and not allow us to have constitutional carry. There are still too many ways that the police can come in and, basically, someone can make a complaint and you’re still going to be in trouble for having your gun right there. But beyond that, if they want to say they’re conservative and they want to push for these things, why don’t they push for outlawing the laws that took our constitutional right away, which is what the name of the bill is “constitutional carry?” If it’s constitutional, why do I need a new law to give you that back? Why didn’t we remove the law that took that constitutional right away from us? And that’s the difference is we sent all these guys up there to do all this, but they write laws instead of removing the things that took things from us. They’ve taken our freedoms away. And then they want to be rewarded. They want to be considered conservative for going and finding a new watered-down version. And then if you factor the rest of them, we don’t have freedom of religion protections, which is what we asked for. We didn’t stop child gender mutilation. We didn’t give monuments protection. We didn’t ban taxpayer payer funded lobbying. So, if you didn’t do what we ask, how can you be a conservative? How can you say [Dan Patrick] is conservative when he didn’t do what the conservative people in the state of Texas asked him to do? And he didn’t do it the last session, he didn’t do it the session before that, this is his third session. And he, the most powerful person in Texas, couldn’t get on a third special session any of those bills back on there. Now instead, he let Abbott put on a leash law. And while I love dogs, and anybody who knows me knows I love animals and we should always be protecting animals; I don’t think a special session should be called for something like a leash law. And if that’s going to be on there, maybe that should just be one additional, but the priorities should have been on there too. And they’re still not there. And so he’s not a conservative, he’s pandering to his donors, he’s pandering to stay in power. And he goes on Fox News, and he talks a big game and in the mainstream media that doesn’t support the conservative movement is propping these guys up to keep them in power, and they’re not doing what we’ve asked them to do. That’s what matters—transparency. Right now they’re not doing that. They’re doing backroom deals, they’re killing things in the committees, and they’re not holding our officials accountable. That’s what we need to do. We need to hold our elected officials accountable, and we can do that by making their votes public. Make their votes public and the voters will see where they truly stand.
Garrit: Yeah. As you have said, the Lt. Governor is the most powerful position in the state of Texas. However, a lot of people may think that the Governor is the “top dog” in the state. So, could you elaborate on the importance of the position of Lt. Governor?
Aaron: Yeah, so the lieutenant governor is president of the Senate and unlike pretty much every other lieutenant governor around this country (they’re more like a VP position) the Texas Lt. Governor is separately elected. When you’re the president of the Senate, you have the power to control the legislation. You have the power to control the committees. Dan Patrick can control the legislation that gets to the house or effectively gets to the governor. He’s not doing that. Dan Patrick runs things with an iron fist, but he’s just not doing that in a way of protecting conservatism. You’re the most powerful person, and you have the ability also to look at the budget and control a lot of the committees and all the structure that goes on in the Senate, and you’re the one that also can go to these guys and, basically serve as a salesman, and convince these guys why it’s important to pass this legislation—that’s why it is such a powerful position. Then, of course, there’s the if something happens to the Governor or the Governor is out of state, then you become the Governor. We have the ability as Lt. Governor to effectively control the legislature in every way possible outside of the House. But at the same time, as President of the Senate, you can apply pressure back onto the House and make them realize that if they want to be voted in again by the conservative movement, then they need to get on board to do what they need to do. You can apply that pressure by making votes public and exposing what legislators are and aren’t doing. That’s what we need, and Dan’s not doing that.
Garrit: Yeah, so what has been the reaction to your campaign?
Aaron: Honestly, very good. I’m a little shocked at how well it is going. I guess that is just a testament to what I’m standing up for. So, I’ve had a lot of support already from people from the Huffines and Prather campaign offering to help. I’m trying to reach out to the West campaign to see if they would like to come on board. Because, if one of those three win, and I don’t, then Patrick is just going to kill legislation and keep them from doing what they need to do. So, I’ve already been to a couple of events. I spoke in Tyler with Chad Prather and got a really good round of applause. I’m trying to get my feet wet. I spoke last night and had a similar conversation. A girl came up to me, and the first question she asked was “well, Dan’s conservative.” That seems to be the consensus. By the time I was finished explaining SB1 through SB8 and how things are done, she decided that she would be voting for me. So, it’s really good from where I’ve started. It’s not enough. That’s why interviews like the one you’re doing with me are important because the system makes Patrick out to be great. I’ve got to push past that. But considering where I was two weeks ago, I would say it’s going phenomenal.
Garrit: Well, that’s great! So, President Trump, Senator Cruz, Senator Cornyn, and Governor Abbott have all endorsed Dan Patrick. How do you plan to convince Republicans to vote for you?
Aaron: Well, I think that goes back to educating voters. I think letting people realize that he’s not doing what we put him in office to do. You can’t run on a campaign slogan of “principled conservatism” and not pass conservative bills that we’ve asked for. So, that’s going to be my is making people realize that Dan Patrick is not what the media portrays him as. And, I don’t think Trump’s endorsements are as strong as they were before. I love Trump—he was a hell of a president. I voted for him both times. I got tons of people to vote for him, and I think that he did a hell of a job. His endorsements normally mean a lot. But, I think it’s like anybody once they leave office, things don’t always go the same as they were. And I believe a lot of people, as much as we like Trump, are at the point now where we, you know, we stuck our neck out for Trump, we voted for him, we went out into rallies, and we did all kinds of things for him as a whole, but in the end, when we needed him to fight the most he didn’t. He let the judicial system destroy everything. He didn’t fight for the election. Now because of the rally on January 6th, that he pushed for, we have 635 people in jail and nobody gets to talk to them. People are getting arrested for just being at that rally. And he, with all his power, has effectively done nothing to stop any of that from happening to us over the past 8 months. It’s always “what have you done for me” lately and right now people aren’t seeing Trump doing anything more than talking. And I think you saw that with Susan Wright losing the primary to Jake Ellzey. You saw that Trump’s endorsement didn’t get her the win. It says that Trump in Texas doesn’t mean what Trump used to mean. So, the question that comes up all the time is “why.” Why did Trump back these two (Abbott and Patrick)? So, when your endorsements are more as a political game instead of supporting real meaning behind it then your endorsements start meaning a lot less. Dan Patrick doesn’t need Trump’s endorsement to win. He’s got the money right now. I’m the only main challenger and I don’t have any money. So, I’ve got to do my job of getting the grassroots movement going. I don’t care about the endorsements. It’s the same thing with Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz almost lost to Beto. Ted Cruz, while he’s a great guy, he does a lot of things, but it’s a lot of lip service. That’s the problem right now is that a lot of these guys that are endorsing people like Abbott and Patrick, we’re not seeing a lot of action out of them. And, when you don’t see action out of people, you stop caring what they think. So, I don’t care about the endorsements. I don’t think the people that are “pissed” off care about endorsements.
Garrit: Okay, so we’re going to transition over to more of your specific policy positions now, but first things first, as Lt. Governor, you will certainly face trouble passing conservative legislation. Every session our Republican legislative priorities get sidelined. Speaker Phelan places Democrats into leadership positions. So, how do you plan to properly effect conservative legislation when our own “Republican” legislature won’t?
Aaron: Well, I think that goes back to what I said earlier about making things public—it’s part of the Constitution, there’s only one meeting that’s allowed to be private. Outside of that, it should be public. And what we’ve got to do to make things change is we’ve got to bring everything into the public. If you allow them to continue to do the backroom deals and hide things and kill things to committees and Phelan gets away with what he’s doing in the house, we have full control across the entire state right now. There’s no reason that the conservative agenda shouldn’t pass, except that these people aren’t conservatives. And so that needs to be exposed. That’s first, as far as getting things done, I can make sure that if we don’t get SB1 through SB8, as we’ve been requested by the constituents, then I can shut things down. I can make it hard on them to get anything passed if they don’t want to do what they’re supposed to do. So, I think the biggest thing is applying the pressure and bringing it to the public. When you do that, you will light the fire underneath their feet and you will get their office lit up with phone calls. And you will effectively bring the entire conservative movement down upon them. And if you put that kind of pressure on them, they’re going to kick because ultimately the people that are doing this to us right now care more about being elected than they do about actually doing change. And if they’re fearing they’re not going to get elected, they’re probably going to do what they’re supposed to do. The other thing is we need to get people to the primary. And this is going to be the biggest thing is we’ve got to get people out to the primaries. Because if we want to make the change, if we want to remove the people like Phelan that go in there and do the things he’s done. So we’ve got to get people to the primary. We’ve got to get the RINOs [Republican In Name Only] out of the office and we need to replace them with grassroots conservatives. And then that goes along with the governor too, right? We need to change down. And for people like Phelan that try to come in and play nice with the Democrats and give them the positions that he gave them, why? I don’t understand it. The Democrats never play nice with us. And yet time after time after time, the Republicans say “well, we don’t want to be hated.” Why? We’re hated no matter what we do. I mean, my God, the Texas Elects posted me on the Twitter page the other day, right after announcing in Austin, and there’s like six comments, and they’re like putting pictures of Nazis and calling me a fascist because Texas Elects stated that “I’m running to the right of Dan Patrick.” And it’s hilarious. Like, they don’t even know me. They don’t even know what I stand for it. None of them even knew my website. It wasn’t even up when they announced this on Twitter. Yet, I’m being called a Nazi. So, why should I play nice with a side that doesn’t play nice no matter what I do? I can give them everything they wanted; they would still come after me because there’s an R on my name. So, you know, we’ve just got to go back and play hardball. And we need to bring everything to light. And we need to go after the left and the democrats that want to keep doing this to us. And if there are RINOs in there that want to stand in our way, then we need to make it well known. And that’s the thing we’ve got to play the game that the left has always played. We’ve got to take them to court, we’ve got to do the things that they’ve done to us, and we need to stop turning in one cheek and then turning the other cheek. We’ve got to stand up for Christian values. And we’ve got to put them on the defense. In Texas, we’re typically pretty strong-willed and confident people. But our leaders don’t act like that. So that’s the difference. We need strong leadership. We need people that actually hold the Texas values and then put everybody’s butt to the fire and see how they want to act after that.
Garrit: Once again, I agree with you. I hear from a lot of people, that we need to “seek unity.” But I often wonder, unity with what exactly? Unity with leftists that hate us and everything that we stand for? I just think that if we moderate and concede our viewpoints because the left always talks about how we need to “come together.” They want us to concede our points. They’re not going to moderate their views, and they’re not going to dilute their values. So, why on Earth should we do that? I think it will be a great day in Texas, in the country, when Republicans realize that we need to be bold and that we need to stand up for our beliefs and not moderate.
Aaron: Well, and yeah, to what you said, you know, I tell people all the time that it’s amazing when you go down and sit and talk with most people, we don’t differ that much. We don’t need to be hard on the people in general, even the most left, because when you sit down and talk to them, it’s emotional care for them. They have a feeling that they want to do something good. The problem is it’s misled anger, and it’s gone the wrong way. But as a Republican, every time you concede your values, it’s like my kids, right? If I tell them I’m going to enforce a rule on them, but I don’t enforce the role. You know, what they do? They keep bending that rule. So when you take a stand on something and you stand for this, and then every time they push you, you go “well, you know maybe I could give up a little bit on that,” and you keep compromising your values, then no one takes your values seriously. And that’s the thing, we’ve always conceded our values to the left. And they’ve just been stripping away our values, our Texas way of life, and our American way of life. And, and all we do is every time we’re like, “well, I don’t want them to hate me. Let me go ahead and concede this and concede that.” So, no one takes our value series anymore. And so they just push, and they push, and they push and that’s the thing. You’re right. I mean, it’s like you. You’re in UT as a conservative newspaper— it can’t be easy. So, yeah it’s exactly what you said. We just need to stop conceding our values. But at the same time, we can also get a lot of people to come to the table if we just start talking to the actual citizens themselves.
Editor’s Note: Here ends part one of a two-part interview with Mr. Sorrells. Make sure to check out his website (sorrells4texas.com).
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.