Editor’s note: this interview took place via zoom on Friday, October 15th, 2021, and has been edited for clarity.
Garrit: So, I figured we’d just get started. First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Raul: Yeah, sure. I’m originally from Del Rio, retired lieutenant colonel, United States Air Force, 22 years. I retired in 2016 and went to work for Southwest Texas Junior College for about a year after that. I went to work at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio for about two years. And the short of it is I’ve got three wonderful kids, a beautiful wife, my oldest is a captain in the Air Force. So he’s fallen in my footsteps. And part of how I ended up here is when I was working at Randolph Air Force Base, I didn’t like the politics of my then representative Will Hurd. And so we didn’t know any better and we took on Goliath. And I want to say we won except we lost by seven votes in a run-off against the current representative Mr. Tony Gonzalez. And so there’s a whole backstory of why I’m running for the State Senate, but election integrity is part of it as well. And so in short, that’s me right there for the last 10 months or so since January when Joe Biden took over. We’ve been doing rallies up and down on the border really just trying to bring attention to the chaos down here. And I’m currently residing in beautiful Medina County in Castroville, Texas. So, between San Antonio and Hondo is a little beautiful community—Castroville. So, we’ve been here for about four years. We’re home builders, Garrit, we build homes here and out into West Texas. So that’s, that’s what you see here—a businessman.
Garrit: Yeah, so in what ways will your experience in the military play into your tenure as a state senator?
Raul: Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, Lieutenant Colonels get a lot of responsibility and I like to say we’re the workhorses, at least for the officer side, before you enter the colonel and the one general one-star general, two-star general and it gets very political, but and so we got a lot of responsibilities, millions of dollars, sometimes billions of dollars. In my case, I was a cyberspace officer. And so way back in the 90s, when we were still building computers, and companies like Dell and some of these other big companies like Apple and of course, Microsoft, were barely building computers and networks. And so as a lieutenant I was building network computers and then we would network them. And for a lot of folks, for the younger folks, that’s maybe weird because now our iPhone is everything right now. But back then we would build computers, network them, and then we realized somebody was hacking into them. So, we had to defend the data and the information. So, we became cyberspace officers. And that’s what I did for 22 years. In my last assignment in the Air Force, I ran all the Air Force Department of Defense networking systems right here in San Antonio. And of course, being from Del Rio, I know Spanish. So, I had a second career in the Air Force—I was the international affairs expert for Central and South Texas, which is how I ended up here as well. I’ve been to Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, the only country I never went to was Belize. And so I’ve been everywhere in that area. So, I know what the cartels are doing. I know the illicit trafficking that’s happening. I know what’s plaguing us on the border. So again, a lot of DOD strategic leadership experience plus my international affairs expertise, and in this area is exactly what we need as the next senator for the state of Texas.
Garrit: Excellent. First off, thank you for your service, and secondly, you touched on this just a moment ago, you previously ran for the US House of Representatives. And I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that you were considering challenging Congressman Tony Gonzalez again. But, a few weeks ago you announced that you were running for the State Senate. So why have you decided to run for the State Senate and not the US House?
Raul: Yeah, I’ll start off my explanation with a real simple statement—there’s something happening in the elections administration in these large cities, particularly in congressional district 23. There are 29 counties, the largest county is Bexar County, and it holds about 50% of the vote. So if you look at all 29 counties in congressional district 23, 28 of them are 50% of the vote…in the primary…and Bexar County is 50% of the vote just by the population. So what happens is that when you run in this district, if you’re not a “favorite son”, and I call them a RINO, or a squishy Republican, that the Bexar county folks don’t like, and by that, I mean, there’s a lot of great patriots in San Antonio, but something is happening. And it goes back to what happened to Donald Trump. So, now just a little more detail here on election night, we were up 1400 votes at about 9:30, my house was full of patriots here waiting to see when we would win and Bexar County went to 100% for about 10 minutes, and then they went back to 95%. And at 10:15, they started what became four subsequent updates. And at 1:30 in the morning, I lost the election by seven votes. So, when people ask me, “why aren’t you running in congressional district 23?” There’s a lot of reasons. One of them is that again, you know, it takes money to jump in and run in these congressional districts. And even now, there’s a lot of great patriots that are not going to jump on and take on an incumbent, even if he is a RINO. And the only guy that’s really doing that is folks like Matt Gaetz and maybe Marjorie Taylor Greene, who aren’t afraid to call out Liz Cheney. You’ve heard Donald Trump call out Mitch McConnell. So, folks are starting to wake up and say, “look, there’s a problem with some of these Republicans…if they’re Republicans at all.” So, that’s a big part of it, to run for months and then have it stolen. Maybe I can’t prove that, but something happened to us. So, the only way to fix that is that I need to be in the state legislative body, the Senate, to go in there and grind out a serious election integrity bill, and it starts by actually auditing the primaries. We need to audit the primaries because that’s really where the “fix” is. We can audit the November elections all day long and at the end of the day, but if you want to fix this mess, start auditing the primaries. That is where stuff happens, and then by the time you get to November, you don’t get a choice. The question I asked everybody, if you were in Liz Cheney’s district, and she actually beats her primary opponent, would you still vote for her in November? And so the “fix” is in the primary. So, Harris County, Bexar County, and Travis County are plagued with something. And we need to audit that. We need a forensic audit. Donald Trump’s called for it. I’ll do the same thing in the Senate and I’ll push hard to make it happen.
Garrit: Absolutely! So, continuing on with that, former state senator Pete Flores, who is endorsed by President Trump, is also running for Senate District 24. So, this wouldn’t be the first time you’re running up against a Trump-endorsed candidate. So, you know, it was close last time. How do you convince Republicans to vote for you?
Raul: Yeah, so you got to tell the whole story. And we’ve already started that with our first event up in Bell County. And it resonates. Look, the fact of the matter is, last Tuesday or Monday I think…I forget the exact day… sometime around noon, the maps popped out for Senate District 24, and there was already some wrangling going on about what happened to Burnet and Williamson County up there. All that is, you know, they were working those issues out, but when the map came out, you begin to realize that this District was gerrymandered all the way down to the street where my opponent lives. Then all of a sudden, within a couple of hours, my opponent has a website, he’s been endorsed by Dan Patrick, Greg Abbott, and then, of course, Donald Trump comes on board as well—that’s all in a matter of 24 hours. This is all pre-coordinated. I assure you, in Congressional District 23 in that campaign, we call ourselves proud Trump Republicans. We’re ‘America First’ candidates. We believe in real border security. We’ve got to do something about our election, and we need to reduce a whole lot of taxes—including property taxes. So, we run up against what I call the “Trumpsters,” and I mean that in a very respectful way because we believe in the MAGA policies—we really do. All that happened before anybody realized that Raul Reyes was in the senate district. Had they told me or Donald Trump, I assure you, Trump would have thought twice about endorsing Flores. Because the last time I ran against his endorsee, he came off the airplane twice, they asked him about Congressional District 23 and he mentioned my name and said, “Look, Reyes is a good man. He’s a good candidate.” So Trump has never blasted me. I have no issues with Donald Trump. In fact, we’re pushing hard to get those policies initiated here in Texas, that’ll secure the United States as well because the way Texas goes is the way the nation goes.
Garrit: So, moving on to your particular policy positions. You touched on this earlier, but what do you think needs to be done about election integrity? What are your thoughts on the election integrity bills that have been passed?
Raul: Yeah. So, if I had it my way we would go back to paper ballots. They work. They’re simple. It’s hard to be fraudulent on what we used to do for, I don’t know, 200 years plus. It’s not until recently—the age of the computers—we’re trying to streamline and make things more efficient, but it only allows for people to go in there and do what they need to. You just have to look at the Arizona audits. Now Philadelphia, possibly Georgia, and what you realize is there’s a lot and…being a cyberspace officer, I can tell you right now with everything I’ve heard from Arizona tells me we need to go back to paper ballots and Democrats and “squishy Republicans” are probably not going to want to do that. They’re going to count the efficiency and effectiveness of computer software so that you see the problems that it does when you have 34,000 votes and in Arizona that were duplicates, which means there were 17,000 actual votes—that’s something a software glitch did. I did this professionally for 22 years. I know what I’m talking about. We need to get away from doing it electronically—that’s number one. Number two is, I said earlier, we’re going to have to audit the primaries. November election audits are terrific as well. That’s a great start, but then we have to hold the penalties for folks who actually go out and steal votes. The travesty of what’s happened in this past legislative session is and I don’t understand why anybody can’t explain that to all of us, to constituents, or to voters why somebody changed the felony penalty for fraudulent voting to misdemeanor Class A and the fact that Dade Phelan is still holding that up is just crazy to think about. This is the number one priority along with the border. This is why we’re here, Garrit. We’re gonna run up there, I’m going to be blessed to be the senator for Senate District 24, and we’re going to make a lot of noise. If people do not trust their elections anymore, they’re going to stop voting, and that it’s going to hurt the Republican Party and the conservative/constitutional movement to get Texas back to where it needs to be. So, those are the three big ones I see. There’s a lot of other little details that we’re going to work through as well, but we need to audit the primaries, make those penalties harsh, and, of course, ensure that, if we’re at all possible, we go back to paper ballots.
Garrit: Yeah. Kind of going off of that a little bit, you and I both know the Austin establishment it’s very swampy. There’s a lot of bad stuff that goes on. There are a lot of establishment RINOs in leadership in our legislature. You have Dade Phelan—I consider him a RINO. I’ve interviewed Aaron Sorrels, who’s challenging Dan Patrick. So, there are some people who think that Dan Patrick is also a RINO. And, you know, my question to you is, how do you plan to take on the establishment when you get to Austin?
Raul: Well, we’ve already sort of done that and a few events. You know, I tell folks, I’m not running against Dan Patrick or Greg Abbott. My race is against Pete Flores, and he is the chosen one. I tell folks that it’s real simple—you either want your next senator to be chosen by the folks in Austin or you want to make that decision on your own. But once we get to Austin, which is what you’re asking, we have things like the bully pulpit. I mean, being a senator is not chump change, you can make some noise. And I often wonder why folks don’t do that. In a meeting or in an event, I said, “look, I called out Dade Phelan and we’re going to keep going that,” in fact, Donald Trump did that the afternoon I did that—not that he’s listening to me, but we’re in lockstep with a lot of folks who feel like, “why isn’t anybody saying or doing anything?” The answer is we’re not there to be career politicians. We’re normal folks who have had enough. You know, yeah, we had an attempt at CD 23 and we learned a lot of things—like there are fraudulent elections happening in Texas and that the border is unsealed. All these are topics that we need to be screaming at the top of our lungs at the highest hill and going, “we need to do something about this!” People don’t like to be embarrassed in public. And look, if you’re running with the wrong policies and we call you out and that embarrasses you then that’s not our problem. We’re Texas, we’re conservative, we’re constitutional, and we need to stop doing what the federal government wants us to do because Joe Biden is the problem.
Garrit: Continuing on with what you said, you’re not making your race about Dan Patrick or Greg Abbott, but, with that being said, do you have any thoughts on the governor’s race?
Raul: Well, what I tell folks is that…and I get that question quite a bit…what I tell folks is “look, I voted for Abbott and, you know, I voted for him every single time.” What’s happened here since January and, of course, during the pandemic has me with my ears perked a little bit. I think as far as Greg Abbott’s concerned, he’s got three opponents; Allen West, Chad Prather, and Don Huffines. Those folks are gonna make a case against Abbott. I mean, Abbott’s a tough challenge, because he’s got a lot of money and he’s got a lot of support. For us, we’re just gonna stay out of the race. Now, again, they’ve chosen to side with Pete Flores. The only case I’m making in this race is “are you tired of the same old politics?” And if that’s the case, then, you know, look us over and what you’re going to realize is, we’re America First, constitutional conservative, unabashedly Christian, and we believe that God needs to be back into this government, and so people can make a decision based on that.
Garrit: Yeah, absolutely. So, going back to your policy positions, you’ve also mentioned this, you know, what are your thoughts on property taxes and abolishing property taxes? I’ve spoken with Senator Huffines and Chad Prather and they’re both in favor of abolishing property taxes. But a common thing you hear from the media, from the establishment, or from a lot of people is that you just simply can’t abolish property taxes. “We won’t have enough money to run the government.” “We won’t have enough money to run schools.” What are your thoughts on that?
Raul: Yeah, anytime you start the conversation with folks who say they can’t do anything, or it’s impossible, maybe they’ve been in Austin or Washington too long. We can do anything if we put our minds to it. I’m all for abolishing property taxes. It’ll take us 5 to 10 years to do it, but what will surprise a lot of folks in there are these plans that have already been up in the Texas Legislature that has been submitted by a lot of folks. In fact, Don Huffines, as a senator, submitted a few plans to abolish property taxes, but it just hasn’t taken hold. And of course, if you look at our current status, property taxes are rising. A lot of it has to do with all of these people moving into Texas—because this is a great place to live. So, I’m for abolishing property taxes. How we do it is really simple. The State of Texas overspends its budget 8 to 10%. Meaning, when they do a budget they look at the last year’s budget, and they say, “okay, let’s, buffer this a little bit with 8 to 10%, sometimes 11 or 12%. We need to cap it off to two, two and a half percent, or a reasonable number and make the state live under some efficient and effective policies. You know, we did this in the military, every time we did a budget every year, you would add 10 to 12%, hoping to get 4 or 5% extra, and then you couldn’t find a place to spend it. So, the State of Texas can be more efficient. We take the difference there and buy down to property taxes, I assure you, we can get out from underpaying property taxes—at least to the extent, we’re doing now. Yeah, it’s going to require some kind of consumption tax, but I tell folks, “if you’re paying, I don’t know, eight or nine cents every time you buy a can of coke at the local convenience store if you paid a couple of extra cents, and you never had to pay property taxes or “rent” to Texas, wouldn’t that be a reasonable exchange?” And the answer is for a lot of folks, “yes, it is.” But it starts by letting Austin know you can no longer just make budgets that are blown proportionally every year. We have to start looking at that. This is why they don’t want a guy like me there because we’re asking really basic questions. I’m a businessman. If I run in the red every month, I go broke next month. So, look, right now we’re spending billions of dollars on illegal aliens that are residing in the state of Texas receiving health care and a whole lot of benefits. On top of that, we’re just spending another billion or two trying to defend this border. All that money, had we done it right, could have gone to buy down property taxes. We need the right leadership up in Austin. This is part of why I think, by the time we get to March or May, whenever they hold the primaries, it’s going to be a little tough for us because our intent is to meet everybody and explain that we can do anything we put our minds to. Anytime somebody says otherwise, they’re either naysayers or already in bed with the wrong crowd.
Garrit: Moving on, you’ve also touched on this, but this is probably going to be the biggest issue for most of the races in this state and that is border security. What are your thoughts on the border crisis we’re seeing right now? What do you think needs to be done in order to secure the border?
Raul: Yeah, so my thoughts are…I’m from Del Rio Texas originally. So, when Joe Biden took over as President and he started to take apart and dismantle the policies put in by the Trump administration—that worked—we saw that a tidal wave was coming. So, I personally have been on the border. We’ve held rallies and Del Rio down to the Rio Grande Valley. Here in Medina County, we had a border rally. We’re having another one actually on Sunday. It’s part of the campaign now because we’re running but it’s all in an effort to let folks know that Texas is going to have to engage the federal government. The federal government is never going to secure this border. I’ve heard countless Democrats and Republicans come together about how they’re going to tidy things up here. I grew up on the border. I haven’t seen anything ever [being] fixed. The only person who actually tried to do something about that got run out of Washington DC by both Democrats and Republicans and his name was Donald J. Trump. In fact, if you go to my hometown, right there at the bridge is the Trump Wall, and then the old small Bush Wall, or maybe even the Obama Wall, but there is no barrier there. If you go to El Paso, there are double barriers there. So if you ask me what the solution is, within the cities like Del Rio, Eagle Pass all the way down in LA, we’re going to have to provide a barrier. It’s a wall folks—that’s all there is to it. We need a wall so that we can channel folks when these invasions happen. The Border Patrol can better handle this load. The other thing is, you know, we’re gonna have to legislate in Texas actually, giving the right authorities, like the DPS and County Sheriffs, that when we say “go,” we’re going to have to apprehend these folks and return them back to Mexico. That’s all there is to it. We’re at that point where we’re going to have to do exactly that. We have 2 million folks that came in already. We’re tracking that 3 million, maybe two and a half million, before the year is over—that’s the folks that we caught. There’s car chase after car chase, bailout after bailout, and all the border counties are having issues with resources. So, to legislate this, it’s really simple, we’re going to have to finish this wall and actually get it done. Then, the other thing we’re going to have to do is provide the right authorities for the state of Texas under the US Constitution. We’re under an invasion. The State of Texas, or any sovereign state, is able to defend its borders. It doesn’t matter if you’re Arkansas, in the middle of the rest of the United States, or right here in Texas, we’re up against the border. At some point, we’re going to have to defend ourselves. What I tell folks is, look, we had 18,000 Haitians underneath the international bridge in Del Rio. Imagine for a second, now, one more visual here. Most of those people were military-age men—the media isn’t reporting that. Now imagine if that was Chinese men or Russian men under the guise of “we’re having issues in our country” and they come to the United States. At what point are we going to realize that we’re really being invaded here? What I can tell you is a lot of the folks that are in that group are MS-13, Zetas, Cartel. Because those middle-aged men are coming here to do things, and I hope I’m wrong, but you already see crime spiking. And, that’s a problem, not just in Texas, but across America. So every city is a border city now. Every county is a border county. So, we need a legislative solution. For me, I’m not going to the Senate to be quiet. If both Democrats and Republicans don’t want to fix this, I’ll point it out. And we’ll make sure that people know that, hey, we’ve got to get this down. We’re in the same situation we were in years ago, only it’s 1000 times worse.
Garrit: Yeah, excellent. So, that is about all the questions that I have for you. My final question to you would be: do you have any final words as we end this interview?
Raul: I do. I want to thank you for having me on here. Look, we’re grassroots, and the grassroots isn’t a set of a group of folks that just are out there—it is every voter and constituent who looks at America, wonders what’s happening, and then realizes that if we don’t save Texas then we’re definitely going to be in trouble. Leave no room for doubt, we’re the number one target and it’s right here in the state of Texas. Of course, I hear a lot of folks say, “don’t California My Texas.” Well, it’s already happening. You know, 30 to 40 years ago, we had Ronald Reagan—one of the greatest presidents and somebody I love to read up on—he made America what it was past the Cold War and was an amazing leader, and he came out of California, specifically out of Hollywood. We have ceded too much ground, and if we continue to do that in Texas, we’re definitely going to be in trouble. Because we’re never going to get out of the bowels of the liberal socialism that is the Democrat Party now. Now with that said, we’ve got a few squishy Republicans that we’re going to have to remove. Me personally, I’m a constitutional and Christian conservative. I’m from Del Rio, Texas. So, I know what the border mess looks like. I feel like in our election, and this is the last time I’m going to say it, something happened that makes me not run for CD 23 [again] and that’s okay. We learned something. And those are the things we’re going to have to fix. Because if people don’t trust that we’re secure at the border, and if their elections aren’t secure, we’re definitely going to be in trouble. And folks are going to not want to vote and wonder why we aren’t defending the great state of Texas. So, that’s what we’re going to be here to do. There are numerous other issues that we’re going to have to take care of. You mentioned a few like property taxes, and of course, there’s just a slew of other stuff, like Child Gender Modification Mutilation, that we’ll take care of. But, we’re going to work hard. We’re going to try to meet as many folks as we can. Sure there’s an opponent and he’s been chosen. I’ve said this before, but if you want “lap dogs,” then my opponent is your choice. If you want a “bulldog” or a “lion” in the Senate, please look us up at reyes4texas.com. Look us up and you’re going to see that for the last two or three years, I did battle against the national establishment, and they tried to crush us, but you can’t. Now we’re going up against the Austin elites. They’re going to try to crush us, but we’re not going to let them. The people will speak, the people will rise, and if together we can do this. I’ll be the best Senator I can be for constitutional Christian conservatives. With that said, I say thank you to the Lord Jesus for having me here with you today. And I wish everybody a good day.
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.