Editor’s Note: The Interview took place via zoom on 12/29/21.
Garrit: Can you introduce yourself?
Dennis: Sure. I’m Dennis London. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, grew up in Maryland, joined the Corps, got to travel the world, and I have experienced some very interesting and different cultures and governments. That was my ‘growing up’ point when it came to the world of politics. I wasn’t into politics much growing up; I remember sitting in the back of the car in gas lines during the gas shortage in the ’70s. My last duty station was in California—it’s where I met and married my wife. We’ve been married now for 30 years. We moved out here in 2018. You know, trying to be a conservative in a liberal state was pretty exhausting. You could sit there and advocate for everything you believe in and push for it, but it was like pushing a noodle uphill—it just wasn’t going anywhere. Eventually, we got fed up and decided we had to leave. I’ve been coming to Texas for about 20 years, I worked for a company in the Plano area, so I’ve witnessed Plano change from ranches, farms, and open country land to the little Metropolis it is now. So, I kept looking at the area and thinking, “wow, this would be a great place to come alive,” and then it would start to get overdeveloped. So, we decided that we would look a little further out—we wanted more land. So, that’s what we did. A little bit more about me—I’m a constitutional conservative and a businessman. I own a cybersecurity company providing cybersecurity services to organizations throughout the country.
Garrit: Could you speak more on your background in the military and how that will transfer over to being in the State House.
Dennis: Sure. The military, as you know, is relatively structured. The aspect of being put into a non-commissioned officer role or being promoted into a non-commissioned officer status—running a platoon, a squad, a fire team—eventually I picked up a staff NCO specifically because there wasn’t anyone to do that. I stepped up and said I would do it. I ran that platoon for about two years. Also, during that time within the military, you have your military exercises. You get to meet people from all over the world when you’re doing joint operations. You’re also meeting people in other branches, and you have to work together. So, the leadership perspective, the ability to work with other branches, work with other agencies, government agencies, other countries, and their military services, I think is going to play in very nicely with the ability to go down to the House and be able to work with people, some of them who I’m not going to agree with. We’re going to have to figure out a way to work together. That’s something that I’m willing to do, and I’m looking forward to it.
Garrit: You also talk about on your website that you’re Catholic, and I was curious how that has shaped your beliefs, your philosophy, and how you approach life—especially with being a Catholic in such a heavily Protestant part of the country?
Dennis: Well, we’re all Christians. Whether you’re Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, or Presbyterian, you are a Christian. That is the core thing that everybody has to remember. Whichever church you go to, it will be similar values that are instilled. My Catholic faith…the Catholic structure has a little bit more of the dogma and the doctrine behind it. That is what helps to keep me established. I’m a firm believer in the sanctity of life. I’ve participated in the sanctity of life events; I’ve participated in the bishop’s sanctity of life event in Dallas. I’m in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I am the deputy grand knight for the Knights of Columbus. As far as how that will impact me and guide and direct me, I have a Christian-based faith format that if it’s not something that I would do in front of Christ if he were here, then why do it? If you’re a man of your word, you’re going to put your word down, you’re going to say it, and you’re going to do it. So, I don’t think it will have a negative impact whatsoever. I believe that having a good Christian/faith-based backing and structure behind my life, as well as what I’m taking into office, is going to be huge.
Garrit: Why are you running for state house?
Dennis: Why am I running? Moving here from California, I had a front-row seat to what happened there over the last two decades. I lived there for 27 years and even tried to get involved, but it was too late. When we, my wife and I, got here to Texas, we got involved, and I started speaking up on some of this. I was asked to go around and give a presentation and talk to people about what happened in California and what Texans can do to avoid that. So, I started giving a presentation called “Don’t California My Texas.” The county that we lived in—Orange County—was the Republican stronghold within California, but as soon as the Democrats took control, it shifted almost instantly. It was crazy how it happened. We watched that demise over those years. So, coming here to Texas, getting involved, giving this presentation, and talking to people, one of the critical things is to inform yourself about your legislators. You have to see who’s advocating and doing the job you have elected them to do. So, taking my advice, I started looking up the people I voted for. Senator Bob Hall is phenomenal. I have no problem with him whatsoever. He is a champion for the party and a champion for the people. But then when I looked at the incumbent state representative, who I voted for after getting here, I was disheartened to find that he was not an advocate, not just the legislative priorities, but for a lot of the things that I, my family, and my community stood for. I started talking to more and more people. I said, “well, did you know that he voted this way? Did you know he didn’t vote this way?” At that point, I was like, “okay, well, someone’s going to run against him.” So, I waited and waited, but nobody stepped up. So, finally, I decided that I would go ahead and do it. That’s when I threw my hat in the ring. It’s been a wild ride ever since.
Garrit: In what specific ways has Representative Holland (the incumbent representative for HD33) not been conservative?
Dennis: That’s a great question. So, if you take a look at the legislative priorities… let me just ask you, what is your stance on school choice—the ability for a parent to be able to take their child out of a school where they’re not being taught, educated, or nurtured and have that money follow that child to go to another school? I’m talking about school choice for all because people that are wealthy and have the money, to them it’s no big deal. Still, for those who, perhaps, live within a city or their economic means aren’t as sufficient as others, their kids are stuck in an education system or an ISD where they can’t get a good education. School choice also creates competition for these school districts because competition breeds excellence. So, if you tell schools that they’re going to lose the money from this child because this child will be taken and moved over to a new school, wouldn’t that incentivize them to try to do better to keep those kids? Anyway, I know I asked a question, and then I gave a long explanation, but what is your stance on school choice?
Garrit: Yes. I’m a big supporter of school choice.
Dennis: Alright, Justin is not. He is openly opposed to it. That’s one right there. For example, how about supporting, defending, and protecting our monuments and memorials like the Alamo? Do you think that’s important?
Garrit: Yeah, I do.
Dennis: Yeah. Justin does not. Those are two things that he just openly doesn’t support. Are you familiar with ending taxpayer-funded lobbying?
Garrit: Oh, yeah. I’m pretty familiar. I believe about 95% of voters or Republicans—I don’t remember which—supports ending taxpayer-funded lobbying. From my own experience, my state representative Chris Paddie—he’s not running for reelection now—was very staunchly opposed to ending taxpayer-funded lobbying. So yes, I am somewhat familiar with that.
Dennis: Yeah, Justin doesn’t support banning taxpayer-funded lobbying either. So, those are just three right there. I could go on if you want, but I think you get the point. I looked up his record to see if he was an advocate or just a button pusher. He signed on to…when things came across, he voted the right way on things that came across, but he wasn’t an advocate. I’ll give him credit. HR 2622 for a second amendment sanctuary—which everybody lumps into constitutional carry—he was an author for that. I will applaud him all day, every day, twice on Sunday. That is great. Phenomenal work. Way to go, but it still fell short of the mark. It still left openings for federal overreach and government interaction that shouldn’t be there. It’s just not complete. So again, I took a look at what he advocated for, and I didn’t see where he advocated for anything. When it came time for the special sessions, sure he got involved, but then again, that’s being told, “you are here to do just these things.” Why didn’t this happen at the beginning of the general session? Why don’t you walk in there and just advocate for these things from the beginning? Unless you aren’t a faithful supporter, or you have ulterior motives.
Garrit: With that, what has been the reaction to your campaign?
Dennis: I get two reactions. One is I get many people saying, “it’s about time someone stood up.” I get a lot of support from a lot of those folks. Then, I also got folks that asked me right out of the gate why I would want to run against Justin. “He’s a strong conservative Republican. He’s a sixth generation Texan. “He’s got all the old Rockwall people behind him. I mean, why would you want to go against them? Once I started educating them on his voting record, they had the same reaction you had where they’re just like, “whoa, wait a minute. He doesn’t support what? He’s openly opposed to what?” I mean, the eight legislative priorities we have been from 90-92% of the voters said. We want him to focus on these items, and he did next to nothing on them. That’s the part that is upsetting to people. I’ve had people that have taken a look at his voting record, and they just go,” he’s a button pusher.” We want someone to advocate and be proactive for these items.
Garrit: If you are elected to serve in the State House, would you support Dade Phelan for Speaker?
Garrit: Moving on to some specific policy positions. What is your number one priority whenever you get down to Austin?
Dennis: You have to look back on what’s been happening over the last year, and it goes far beyond just the 2020 elections, but election integrity is still tremendous. If we don’t control and make sure that we have fair and honest elections—from the vote to the count to the report—it doesn’t matter what happens in any of the other areas because if somebody is manipulating the accounts, whatever you want to get passed won’t get passed. Whatever they want to get passed will get passed. You can’t have it operating that way. So, the rest of those legislative priorities, whether it’s ending abortion, ending taxpayer-funded lobbying, property tax relief, or what have you, none of that is going to go wherever you think it’s going to go. If it goes against “the narrative,” and whoever is controlling the back end of the count of the votes, whichever way they want it to go, you won’t be able to get it through. So, election integrity is vast, but I plan on going down there to be an advocate. So, I’m not just going to go down there to be a button pusher. I plan on going down there with that primarily. Still, there are other aspects that I plan on focusing on while I’m down there, which is, banning gender modification and genital mutilation of children—that to me is huge. I mean, we’ll go back to the part of the reason why I’m running. I went to a legislative review, and Justin was asked why banning gender modification on children didn’t get passed and why we couldn’t get that through in a Republican-led House and Senate? His answer is, “where is it happening? We don’t know that it’s happening. We only know of the one case.” You could have heard a pin drop. People were like, “what did he just say?” There are over 80 clinics in Texas that offer gender modification, either therapy treatments or surgeries, and he’s asking us, “where is it happening?” I’m sorry, but he’s just a little out of touch with what’s going on. I also support the abolition of abortion. As a Catholic, I’m all for the total abolition of abortion. I’m a massive advocate for banning taxpayer-funded lobbying. We have to put an end to that. Taxpayers don’t want their money going to politicians through PACs or any other form. Our money should be going to the needs of Texans.
Garrit: I think you made a fascinating point that leads me to my next question. We have a lot of people who run for office, who talk a pretty good game, but they fall short when they get to Austin. So, this is a multiple-part question, how will you take on the establishment in Austin?
Dennis: Well, I’ve been trying to run my campaign with honor, courage, commitment, and integrity. Some of the values that were instilled in me as a Marine. “To keep our honor clean” is not just a line we sing in the Marine Corps Hymn. It’s a way we live—part of who we are. So, by keeping my honor clean, it means that I’m going to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I’m going to be that advocate, and I’m also going to have myself accountable to everybody. I have an app for my campaign, which isn’t going to end at the end. I mean, if anybody wants to get the app, they can just text London to 36260. You can get the app, and you can follow the campaign. It gives you direct access to me through email, phone, and text. I’ll have that phone, app, and contact information with me when I’m down in Austin. People can hold me accountable. I am all for transparency. I mean, Bryan Slaton was asking for and tried to propose to get all votes recorded everywhere—that was shut down. What are they hiding? Why would you not want to pass that? Why would you like to obfuscate anything going on in the legislative process? That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m going down there to keep my honor, to walk tall, hold my head high, and be able to tell people that I am doing what I said I was going to do. I know I’m walking into the lion’s den. Politics is an ugly world. I’ve been finding out as I’ve been getting into it. I threw my hat in the ring and, immediately, I started having people questioning my integrity.
Garrit: We’ve talked about Justin Holland, Chris Paddie, and Dade Phelan. We just talked about the establishment in Austin. There’s a swamp in Austin. I interned at the capitol earlier this year for Representative Slaton. What I took away from that experience is that many Republicans in Austin are not that conservative. So, if you are sent to Austin, are you optimistic that we’ll be able to get any conservative legislation done?
Dennis: I love this question. It’s more than just my district or Bryan Slaton’s district; this is the state of Texas altogether. I mean, you’re talking about getting a majority in the House, or at least all the Republicans, to agree to something. I know that there are people down there that have an arm behind their name—they’re registered as that, they got elected like that, but they’re not conservative. Finding out what they’re opposed to is where I see my military background coming into play. I can approach them and ask them, “look, you and I, we got to work together on this. You tell me why you are against this.” See if I can’t change their mind. I mean, I’m going to stand fast in my conviction, but I’m going to tell them, “this is why we need this. Why are you against it? It’s part of our party. 92% of the voters want this.” People have to remember with the House of Representatives, and it’s in the title that you are a representative of your district. It’s not just you go down there to vote the way you want to vote. If the majority of those people in that district want you to vote a specific way, if you have a question, or you oppose that, you have to approach them, you have to talk to them, and say, “I’m not understanding why you guys want me to vote this way?” Explain this, have an open dialogue, create a town hall, create a forum, and have a discussion.
Garrit: Are there any issues you could see yourself working with Democrats on?
Dennis: Well, I’d love to try and convince them that a lot of what they’re pushing on their agenda is wrong and get them on to the more pro-life agenda. I know there are some Democrats that are in the pro-life camp. So, I could see working with them as long as they’re in that pro-life camp. Some voted for and supported Bryan Slaton on recording all votes. So, I could see working with them on that as well. I mean, you’ll have to work across the aisle on some things. But, if it’s going to be about CRT—it’s been banned in Texas, but now they are calling it “diversity, equity and inclusion” or whatever the new term is—I’m not going to work with them on that. This is more than just my district. This is all of Texas, and I think everybody running for office has to understand that. There may be times when I’ll have to work with a Democrat, but it’s only going to be for legislation that is actually in favor of our legislative priorities.
Garrit: Moving back to more specific policy positions. What are your thoughts on vaccine mandates? I know that there’s been a push to have another special session to address vaccine mandates. Is there anything that you would like to see done regarding vaccine mandates?
Dennis: If you want to get a vaccine, get a vaccine. Nobody should be mandating a vaccine. Nobody should be mandated, especially an experimental use authorization. I am wholly against any mandate from any entity telling you that you have to be vaccinated. I’m one of the few people that if I get the flu shot, I get the flu. I don’t just get it on a mild case—I mean, I am in bed for two weeks with a 101-102 temperature. So, I’m one of these guys that, medically, if I go and get the COVID vaccine, they could probably kill me. Besides that, I am fully against any federal, state, local, or even corporate mandate. They didn’t have a fourth session to get through says a lot about who we have in the office today.
Garrit: There was a push by some to restrict the governor’s powers—as we saw with the COVID shutdown. What are your thoughts on that?
Dennis: Well, first off, he [Abbott] was granted powers that the legislature never could give. So, he never should have been awarded that type of power. Once he got it, he got drunk with it. He started abusing it, and the overreach and everything were just ridiculous. We have to rein that back. We have to let him know that he can’t continue to think that he’s the emperor of Texas.
Garrit: Do you have any thoughts on the governor’s race? It’s shaping up to be a very competitive and exciting race.
Dennis: I went up to the Collin County gubernatorial debate and listened to Allen West, Don Huffines, and Chad Prather. Chad Prather is salt of the earth, a man with his heart on his sleeve; he is what you get. I honestly believe that he could probably do a good job. As much as I would like to see that, I think that you’re looking more at a race between Huffines and West. Allen West has been on the frontlines. He’s been there. He’s done that. Don Huffines has senatorial experience. He’s also a businessman. He is independently wealthy. He’s not going to have to rely on anything coming through the governor’s position. I think that we will see that field come down to a good runoff. I think that runoff will probably end up being between West and Huffines. I personally like Chad Prather. I think just having someone that hasn’t necessarily been in the swamp is great. So, whoever ends up winning the governor’s race will be vetted by a lot of people. That’s the critical part, and people have to research what’s going on. If they don’t research what’s going on in the gubernatorial race, you know, we may end up with somebody, you know, equal to or slightly less than Abbott.
Garrit: My final question to you is, do you have any final thoughts or words as we end the interview?
Dennis: Yes. One thing, I think I misspoke a little bit on the runoff aspect. The runoff will be between Abbott and either Huffines or West. But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve the people of HD 33 and the people of Texas. This is more than just about here in the district. We’ve got 254 counties and over 150 representatives that will be down there in Austin, and I look forward to working with all of them in some form or fashion. Yes, as we discussed, even the Democrats. We don’t have enough conservatives down in Austin, you mentioned that, and I wholeheartedly agree—that’s why I’m running. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve and continue my service to Texas and this great Nation. I’m excited about it, and I hope that people will download the app, follow along, and give me feedback. I’m looking for feedback. I love feedback. The only way we grow is with feedback.
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.