Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part interview with Mr. Prather. Part two, in which Mr. Prather and our correspondent talk about the current state of the governor’s race and his policy positions, will be published next week. The interview took place via zoom on Friday September 24th, 2021.
Garrit: Hello, how are you and how is the campaign going?
Chad: Going really well actually. The momentum behind us is fantastic right now. All it takes is money. That’s the bad thing about politics unfortunately—it’s usually the one with the most money that gets the most attention. I mean, we’re as grassroots as it gets, but I’ll tell you, we’re working hard, and the momentum is there.
Garrit: That’s great, and, I mean, that’s politics for you. It is very expensive. But, starting off, can you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself?
Chad: Sure, so, I’m Chad Prather. I live in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been in Texas for the past 20 years. I’ve been in the Fort Worth area. I grew up in the state of Georgia. I love to tell people because I’m a huge pro-life advocate—I believe life begins at conception—that I was conceived in Texas so I’m at least seminally a Texan. I have Texas DNA in me, and my father was in one of those jobs that moved him around a lot so they wound up settling in my mother’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia where I grew up. I went to the University of Georgia. I grew up in the horse world. I worked with horses a lot for most of my life in Georgia—you know that’s not a very well-known thing. We take that for granted here in Texas. You know, you hear that, and you think “oh, well that’s just par for the course.” So, 20 years ago when I came out to Fort Worth for a work visit, I kind of found my tribe. I found my people—the folks with the boots and the cowboy hats and so on and so forth. But no, I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to go and have a social media platform that grew, and use humor to try to mix it with common sense, and try to make that an easier pill to swallow. I do a lot of political humor online, as well as because of the online platforms and the growth of the virality of various videos that I’ve done, I was able to translate that into going out and doing live shows with live audiences across the country over the last several years. So, some people call it comedy—I just call it common sense that’s funny—and we go out and have a great time. We’ve incorporated music in with that as well. We also started podcasting a few years ago and now that podcast got picked up by BlazeTV. So, we have a nightly show called The Chad Prather Show on BlazeTV as well as on YouTube and other platforms. You know, it’s been a beautiful little journey. I don’t know that I could have done what I’ve done and enjoyed the success I’ve had if it had not been for Texas. I just think that if you people are in the right soil, like a seed, then they’ll grow, and Texas was that soil for me. It’s been a beautiful, beautiful thing. I’m in love with this state. To me, it’s the center of the universe. I’m just tired of politics as usual. You know, and I’m sure you’ve run across that plenty in your own experience and the folks you’ve had to deal with. A lot of folks are just okay with keeping the status quo—well, as I say, the status ain’t nothing to quo about. We really do need to fix politics. And, as we alluded to earlier, it’s a shame that the average person doesn’t have an opportunity to go out and represent their community because they don’t have the money or the notoriety. They can’t just go out and have a public forum and say, “okay, this is the person that I believe is the best person to lead.” Unfortunately, we have these grooming institutions for these politicians. And so we wind up with, of course, career politicians, and I think anybody out there, certainly with a conservative-leaning, is going to say that they’re sick of career politicians. But the amazing thing is we keep putting them back in place. So, talking about money to run for office, it’s fascinating to me, especially right now with the chatter about a potential run by Beto O’Rourke [for governor] on the Democratic ticket. We know that Beto, Robert Francis O’Rourke, spent about $90 million in his race against Ted Cruz in 2018. There’s no question about it, he will raise those kinds of funds again, and it’ll be California money. But why would you spend $90 million to get an office that’s going to pay you $153,000 a year? That’s fascinating to me, we have a problem. It’s not just on the Democratic side, that same kind of money is being spent on the Republican side as well. And that’s a shame. So, I’m just one of those normal everyday guys that is fortunate enough to be able to make a living running his mouth, building an audience, and building a platform, and I just got tired of just talking about it—I wanted to do something about it. So, I threw my hat into the ring in 2020 to run as a Republican in the primary against Greg Abbott. So you know, here we are. We find ourselves in an interesting scenario and an interesting race. A lot of things are being said, you know, we’re in a crisis as a state and as a country. So, I’m doing this in order to show people that real people can do this. You don’t have to be groomed to be a politician for the rest of your life. Real people, actual people, can get out there and be a part of this and be a policy for change.
Garrit: Yeah, so going back a little bit, how did you get involved in entertainment?
Chad: Well, I’ve always been on stage in some form or fashion. I had a network a number of years ago. You know, growing up, I was an athlete, and I did all these various things. I traveled a lot to many third-world countries for the better part of 15-20 years. And I would come back from those trips, whether it was West Africa or Southeast Asia, and I would have these places that would want me to come speak and talk about my experiences in a lot of churches and things like that. So I was always known as that kind of motivational guy that made people laugh. And I learned early on that people really don’t care if you’re motivating them or not, just as long as you’re making them laugh. And so I was looking at social media, and I said there’s a way to build a platform and get a message across. You don’t always have to be in front of a live audience like that. So I started making little videos from the cab of my truck, and I’d be sitting in traffic, and to me, they were like, I jokingly said, kind of my therapy sessions just to get things off my chest. I had no idea that these things were going to go viral. So I had a fledgling cable television network that was an equestrian lifestyle network. They reached out to me and were interested in me hosting a television show—we did that for three seasons. It was in the middle of doing that show that my social media stuff kind of took off. That was my story. And so I sort of stepped out and decided to translate this into a live show. We started traveling—we still do. Of course, Covid affected this, but we were doing about 35 states a year and seeing literally 10s of 1000s of people across the country. I kind of got a heartbeat for the folks that we would visit with. Again, I want to do humor but with a point. I want you to walk away thinking about something. You laughed at it, but you thought about it. It made a difference in the way your mindset was. I said years ago that I would never get into political humor—that lasted about six weeks. I said I would never run for office—that lasted for about five years. It eventually just gets to a point where you say enough is enough. Now I get a lot of pushback because having been in the entertainment industry, people say “well, you don’t have any experience.” What I always encourage people to remember is that the world of entertainment is very political. So, I have people who laugh at the idea, or a lot of people will say, “Matthew McConaughey, if he were to run, he doesn’t know anything about politics.” And I push back on it, I say, “no, the scary thing is he actually knows a lot about politics.” Hollywood politics is very, very tricky, and very treacherous. Here’s a guy who’s reached the apex of where you can be in Hollywood, and he’s done it successfully. So, I have no doubt that he knows how to be political. Now, is he good for the state? No, I don’t think so. I just don’t think that his ideologies and his convictions are going to line up with what Texans want and need. But, you know, there’s a lot of politics that go into being a successful entertainer. And I think that at the end of the day, we need to make politics boring again, and we do that by getting politics out of our life. Everything is politics these days. We’ve turned the Beto O’Rourkes and the AOCs into these celebrities—they’re like political Kardashians. We make these people who really have nothing to say, and nothing to contribute, into these big icons of politics. And that’s something that’s got to stop. We really need to stop that mindset of putting these guys up on a pedestal. Because when you do that, they just get knocked off. And then there’s a lot of discouragement and disenchantment and disenfranchisement that comes with that. And I just want normal everyday folks to get involved with politics. You know, I go back to this example, George Washington, when they pressed him to serve a third term as president, he said “no this is it. I don’t want this to turn into a monarchy.” So, he went back to Mount Vernon and spent the rest of his life distilling whiskey—which I think is a great thing. I think that we should look at serving in politics almost like when you get your jury summons—everybody rolls their eyes because nobody wants to go do that. But you get your jury duty summons, and you go, and do it because you want to serve your community and you’re a good citizen. But you’re happy when it’s done. Once it’s done and you’ve served then you want to go home. I think politics should be like a reluctant job. I think that was the intention of the founding fathers, and I’m afraid we’ve gotten too far away from that.
Garrit: Yeah, absolutely. So going back again, a little bit, to your career entertainment. I noticed this at the event where I met you in Austin, you had this ability to seize control of the room and get people’s attention. You have this charm about you. Is that something that comes naturally to you or is that something that you built up over your career?
Chad: So, I think it’s a little bit of both honestly. Again, I allude back to the time when I used to travel all over the world. I love a phrase that Mark Twain said, and I’m paraphrasing, and he said, “nothing destroys prejudice like traveling, and nothing destroys travel like prejudice.” It’s interesting when you travel all over the world, you see that people by and large, even though we’re different in many ways, we’re still at our core very much the same. We have the same ambitions, we have the same inclinations, we have the same drives, and we have the same push for survival and success. So as you get to know people, one thing that I have focused on over my life is just learning how to have a conversation with one person. How do you and I have a conversation; how do I make you the most important person in the room? And what I did over the years was I learned to translate that and say okay, if I could talk to one person, if I’m talking to 10,000, people, I should treat that 10,000 group as one person. I’m having a conversation with a group, but I’m treating you as an individual. So I think that translates a little bit because one, I genuinely do care about people, and I genuinely do like people. I value what they have to say—they’re not pawns in the process. I think that translates at the end of the day, and I like to have fun with people. I like to make them feel, as I said, important, but I like to engage them so that they feel like they’re part of the process. I’ll talk to anybody that I can get to stand still, or at least walk slow. So it’s an honor to me when folks come into a room and they’re willing to sit down and take their time when they could be at home eating pizza and watching Netflix or something like that. But they took the time to get in traffic, drive to where I’m going to be, sit in a room where maybe the air conditioner doesn’t work quite so much, and honor me by giving me their time and their attention. So I’ve never tried to take that for granted, and I hope that translates. And I appreciate you saying that. That’s very kind of you to say that because it’s certainly something that means a lot to me.
Garrit: Well, you’re welcome. So, moving on, you touched on this a little bit when you were introducing yourself. Why have you decided to run for governor?
Chad: Well, you know, I was very frustrated. And understand this, I’m a guy who voted for Greg Abbott two times. I supported Greg Abbott, I had high hopes for Greg Abbott. But over the years, I got frustrated because I felt like there was an evolution that was happening. It was a transformation of a man [from] a person serving the people to more of a politician than a person. The further I got into that, I realized just how long the man has been a politician. And it’s sometimes easy to lose touch with the folks that are out there. So, in 2020 whenever there was yet another mandate handed down where the people of Texas and their businesses were deemed non-essential, and they were forced to shut down because of the unilateral and what I call a dictatorial decision that was made by Abbott. I just had enough. I was in South Dakota having dinner—Donald Trump Jr. was there—and got a news notification that told me about another mandate. So, I went to Twitter, and I said, I’m going to run for governor in 2022 in the state of Texas. Of course, a lot of people love that, and I got a lot of pushback on it. But, by and large, the support was huge because I tapped in on something—people were tired of having their rights taken away and having their constitution trampled on. And I tell people everywhere I go, the Constitution wasn’t written to keep you healthy, the Constitution wasn’t written to keep you safe, it was written to keep you free. And I can count about a dozen constitutional violations that Greg Abbott has committed in the last 18 months. And when you have even one constitutional violation, it’s enough to make a person’s service as an elected representative very suspect. Because when you do that, you’ve gone from being a representative to being dictatorial— it’s tyranny. We don’t just start running hodgepodge and roughshod over people’s rights. When you do that, you should be called into question. We’ve seen this happen too many times. I think we’ve gotten so used to being subjugated as citizens, and just allowing the “politicians to run the game.” We just bow down to it and take it as business as usual. It’s not business as usual. And so I jumped in. The beauty of what I’m doing is I am not bought out by any big donors. I’m not bought out by any multinational corporations. There are no huge billionaires backing me. I don’t have some special interest support. There’s none of that. We’re grassroots, and you’ve heard me joke about grassroots being political speak for being broke. We’ve managed to do a lot of things with $1 that other campaigns are spending millions of dollars on; my conviction is if somebody will spend that much money to get elected, and just think about how much money they’ll spend once they are elected— in both cases it’s not really their money. So I’ll take my hat off to my friend, Don Huffines, he put his money where his mouth was, literally, and started financing his own campaign. So somebody said to me at CPAC, they said, “Don, he is funding his own campaign,” I said, I’m funding my own campaign—there’s just a different number of zeros behind what’s being funded there. But, at the end of the day, man, it’s got to get back to a point where enough people just have gotten pissed off that their rights are being taken away from them. It’s time we say no, we’re not going to stand for this anymore. We had eight GOP priorities that were ignored in the legislative session. Now, we’re heading into our second special legislative session. So it’ll be the third total. And we’re just now addressing or bringing up property taxes. And, you know, two of those priorities were nominally passed. We got the heartbeat bill; the priority was the abolition of abortion. And then we got the permitless carry, which was supposed to be constitutional carry. Both bills were so watered down from the original that was written, that it’s just virtually unrecognizable from the original. So, I always say to people that if I’m the governor of the state of Texas, and the people come to me and say “this is our priority” then it’s going to be my priority. It must be—that is the role of an elected servant. I say that word ‘servant’ very strategically and very deliberately, because at the end of the day, that’s the attitude we must get back to for our elected representatives. They are servants of the people. And when we stop with that mindset, we get into a tyrannical problem.
Garrit: Yeah, so moving on, you briefly touched on this, but there are some people who aren’t taking your campaign seriously, given your background in entertainment. So, how do you convince people that you are, in fact, a serious candidate for Governor?
Chad: Well, you know, you’re not what you do. So, I was talking on my show, just this week, where I said, let’s say you’re a plumber. Let’s say you’re in sewer management, right? Great job, respected job. It’s something that a lot of people don’t want to do. But thank God, there are the men and women out there who do it. But if you’re a plumber, and you’re dealing with everybody else’s stuff, week in and week out, that’s your job. You don’t come home and start, you know, tweaking your toilets because that’s your real life, that’s who you really are. What I encourage people to do is look past what someone does and listen to what they say. Listen to who they are, pay attention to their convictions, go to one of their events, look at them face to face, and have a real conversation with them. You know, there’s a time to be silly, and there’s a time to be serious. You know, the Bible says there’s time for everything. And then you have to start looking past that. Again, I talk about Don Huffines— Don is in this primary campaign. There’s a lot of people that say, “well, he’s a car salesman.” Well see that right there shows you the perception that people have because Don Huffines is not a car salesman. Don is a land developer—his brother sells cars and is very successful—but Don does not sell cars. But people’s perception, because they hear the name Huffines, is that. Get involved, get educated, get with that person, have those conversations, and take them seriously. Know when to separate what they’re doing with who they are. I would hope that if somebody is a doctor, if there’s a practicing physician, and you know, they’re in their clinic six days a week, and then you see them at a church social on Sunday afternoon…you don’t walk up to them and go, “Hey, what’s this rash look like to you?” I mean, they’re not in that role right then—right then they’re being a real person. So, learn to separate what a person does from who a person is. Listen to the real things because there’s a time to do comedy and there’s a time to be serious. And I know how to separate those things. I will say this, everybody that comes to one of my live events, there’s always one or two that walk away saying, “you know, we didn’t know what to think, but then we heard you speak. We heard you talk about the policies and we’ve heard you talk about the issues, and it makes sense. Now we get it. Now we understand.” So, there’s no doubt about it. Anytime somebody wants to walk into the realm of politics, you’re going to analyze their personality, their background, their history, and rightfully so. I’m a guy that comes out of the entertainment industry. I’m not a lawyer, and no disrespect to lawyers— I have wonderful attorneys who do a great job for me— but I would never want their job. But, we keep saying, you need to put [in] the person who has got a political science degree or law degree or something of that nature. Who do you want serving you as governor of the state of Texas? Do you want a judge? How many times have you ever been screwed over by a judge who was partial in some way? I know a lot of men and women who have dealt with custody issues and felt like they got hosed by the judge. Do you really want a judge running your life? Where everything is black and white. Well, Greg Abbott’s a judge. I mean, that’s what his profession was, he was a judge and then he was on the Supreme Court of Texas and then he was Attorney General. Do you want a judge, or do you want somebody that’s blue-collar, hardworking, knows how to work a day’s work, earn a wage, value that wage, blaze a trail, when they fall down they pick themselves up, keep moving forward because they want to work hard for their family and community, and they want to make sure that their rights are protected? You know, these blue-collar hard-working folks, those are the folks who deal with these rights that are being trampled on. And I’d much rather have a person out there who gets it, who knows where I live, knows how it is on my street, versus the guy who sits piously and looks down as though we’re subjects to him. So, I’m proud of what I do. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I’m proud of the businesses that we’ve built out of my “personality.” It’s an honorable thing to be able to sit back at the end of the day and lay your head down on your pillow and know that you worked hard to build what you built. And if people will listen, they’ll see through that. So I encourage people to stop trusting the career politicians, let’s listen to some of these folks out there that are blue-collar hard-working folks who have worked hard to get where they are.
Editor’s Note: Here ends part one of a two-part interview with Mr. Prather. You can check out his website at prather2022.com and his book here.