Editor’s Note: The Interview took place via Zoom on 1/3/22.
Garrit: Can you introduce yourself?
Tom: Sure, my name is Tom glass. I’m running for the Republican nomination in House District 17—which includes Caldwell, Bastrop, Lee, Milam, and Burleson counties. I am a native of Odessa, Texas. I went to Texas A&M University and got a chemical engineering degree. I then went on to Harvard Business School and got an MBA. I then came to Houston and worked in the oil service business, then the computer business, and then went back to Exxon Mobil and worked in the IT department. Since I’ve retired from ExxonMobil, I’ve gone to the legislature for four different sessions trying to get conservative legislation introduced. I’ve created several statewide groups called “Texas Constitutional Enforcement,” “Protect the Texas Grid,” “Texas Election Integrity,” and “Texas Legislative Priorities.” That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. By the way, I went to law school at night (ExxonMobil paid for it), though I’ve never earned a living as a lawyer, and I have legal training and a law license. I think I’ve got the mixture of a business background, a varied education, legal training, and experience in the legislature that makes me uniquely qualified to champion the conservative values of the people in my district. I’m a grassroots guy; I’m not a special interest guy. It’s my opinion that there’s a war between the special interest and the grassroots for control of the Texas Legislature. It’s one of my goals in running to be a part of the change of the culture of the Texas House. One of the things that caused me to run for the seat is my wife was sitting there watching the Democrats run away to the DC, the craziest place a Texas legislature could ever run to, to try to get them to get our election integrity laws in Texas. She then saw the leadership of the Texas House doing nothing about it. She said, “what is it going to take to get a Texas House that is not beholden to the democrats or the special interest?” I started thinking about it, and I realized that if we increase the numbers in the Republican legislature in 2022 (which I think we will do because of the anti-Biden surge and the House “betrayer caucus” in the Republican Party). The “betrayer caucus” started with Former Speaker Straus and there were 11 guys, one of which is still there (Charlie Geren), who were willing to go to the Democrats and say “we’ll work with you at the expense of our fellow Republicans so that we can gain power.” That was kind of the hallmark of the Straus Speakership. Some of those guys in that camp tried that strategy again this past session, but Phelan and company said, “we don’t want them to have that power.” The only way they knew how to stop that was to beat them to the punch and go to the Democrats. So once again, we have a Republican leadership that’s beholden to the Democrats and, of course, to the special interest. I hope that, with the number of the old guard that was more beholden to the Democrats that are not running again (including the guy that I announced to run against), we have a shot at changing the culture with this big freshman class coming in. I hope to be part of a “band of brothers” that will go in as a freshman in the Texas House and say, “Hey, this time, why don’t we be beholden to the voters that sent us here and to the platform of the Republican Party of Texas?” In the past, guys who were like that became pariahs. I’m hoping that the guys who are actually here about the principles of the party and are here to represent their voters, instead of the special interest, will become part of the mainstream and start making some real, substantive change happen in the Texas House. That’s my main reason for running.
Garrit: What has been the reaction to your campaign?
Tom: So far, I’ve kind of been the only one doing substantive campaigning. I’m the only one that has signs up in the district—you know, on the major thoroughfares. We are block walking. Everyone we go see hasn’t heard from anybody else. I think one of my opponents has done a mailer. But other than that, we kind of got an open field. I think that most people are realizing that I’m the front runner in the race. So, it’ll be interesting. It’s a five-way race. I would characterize it as two establishment types who want politics as usual. On my flyer, I say, “these are unusual times; we don’t need politics as usual.” Then we have three people that I classify as grassroots, and I’m the most experienced and prepared of that group. I’m the most experienced and prepared of any of the people that are running. So, I’m the qualified grassroots guy that can champion the Conservatives of the HD 17.
Garrit: What specific ways do you see your background playing into your role as a state representative?
Tom: Well, one of the things is that every redistricting that happens there are fewer and fewer representatives from the rural and small-town districts—there are more suburban and urban representatives. So, one of the things I feel keenly about is that I have a responsibility to be the most articulate and able champion of rural and small-town values and issues to my fellow legislators because the rural people are not going to have their issues paid attention to by simply having the numbers. They’re going to have to have articulate, able champions. Because I’ve been in the district for 10 years—well, I’ve had my house there for 10 years and property longer—my well, for instance, has dropped 30 feet in the last decade. Some of my neighbors have hundreds of feet of their water levels dropping, because they are sucking water out from underneath us, out of an irreplaceable aquifer, and shipping it over to major urban areas. If we don’t change the regulatory and legal environment around water in Texas, we’re going to have major swaths of rural Texas that just do not have any groundwater underneath. And ultimately, the cities where the water is being shipped will not have that water either. We’ve got to figure out a better way to meet the water needs of the growing population in Texas. So, that’s going to be one of my big issues. That’s one of my experiences that helps. The other thing that I think helps us in my legal training. When I was in law school, I started law school at age 46. I remember in one of my classes, I contributed to the conversation, like three times saying, “this author said this about this topic, and I think I agree with him, blah, blah, blah.” A young woman came up to me afterward and said, “Tom, how can you read so much?” I said, “well think about it. I’ve been reading substantive stuff on history, political philosophy, economics, for three decades.” Essentially, I’ve been preparing for this job my entire life because I’ve been thinking deeply about the issues that have to do with lawmaking. I’ve raised a family—I’ve got a grandbaby. I’ve worked in business all my life. Plus, I’ve paid attention to the political process. I have the legal training to understand how to craft legislation and how that’s going to play out in the courts. It’s just the whole package. I think that makes me the most qualified. Here’s the other thing. I grew up in an era where Westerns were big, and the original Disney doing this thing. Walt Disney loved America, and I woke up at age three singing to the top of my lungs (woke up my parents) “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild.” I’m a native Texan. I’m a fifth-generation Texan. I love the Alamo. Davy Crockett became my hero from a very young age. I just love Texas. I love the independent spirit of Texas. I love liberty. Davy Crockett is my hero. He said, “first, make sure you’re right, then go ahead.” That kind of love of America and Texas, that deep understanding of where we came from, who we are, and what we should continue to be, I think, also informs a lot of who I am.
Garrit: On your website, you talked about how one of your professors said that you were a “Lockean.” Could you talk about what exactly that means?
Tom: John Locke, his major treatise was a Second Treatise on Government—I think that’s the name of it—I’ve read it. He was the philosopher and underlined the American Revolution in the whole idea of respect for natural rights. The Declaration says, “all men are created equal and created with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,” and then it gives us our purpose, it says, “governments are instituted among men to secure these rights.” That’s Locke. It’s the Republican idea. A republic is a system that has been designed to protect the individual, natural rights of the citizenry. That’s what Benjamin Franklin said when he walked out of the Constitutional Convention, “what form of government did you give us, Mr. Franklin?” “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Franklin also informed us about the difference between a democracy and a republic. There’s nothing that says democracy whatsoever in the Constitution. You can’t find that word. “Republic” is in the Constitution. Franklin said, “a democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for supper.” Democracies allow the tyranny of the majority over the minority. Republics protect the ultimate minority—the individual. That’s what my goal is. That’s why I walked around spouting Lockean stuff when I was there. I didn’t talk about Locke, I just talked about what I knew the Framers wanted, and I got tagged with a “Lockean” label. I took that as a badge of honor.
Garrit: What do you think the future holds for Lockean principles and Constitutional principles?
Tom: One of the things that I did, during the COVID tyranny, was I had this group called “Texas Constitutional Enforcement.” What we were focused on is that the federal government violates the Constitution every day in myriads of ways and that, if we’re ever going to get our liberty back, we’ve got to start enforcing the supreme law of the land—our Constitution. No law, even the supreme law, is any good if you don’t enforce it. So, that was the idea. But with COVID, the face of that tyranny became our governor, and it became our county judges in our cities. I focused on the Feds because I viewed them as the clear and present danger, but then our local government, who I was supposed to be counting on to push back on the Feds when they do tyranny, they’re getting engaged in tyranny, Maybe we need to focus on how the Governor is violating the Texas Constitution and our natural rights. So, we went through a process in the early days of COVID where we talked about the myriad of ways that what the Governor is doing is unconstitutional: in terms of lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates. I think, with what is happening, there’s been a great education over this last year and a great activation. I’m very encouraged that in Texas there’s this whole new generation of people, primarily it’s young moms, who want to protect their babies and who under understand, in their gut, that this tyranny is not good for their family and not good for their children in the future, and not good for their country. So, I’m optimistic that more and more people are understanding that the ideas of natural rights and the ideas of the Framers are powerful tools to make sure that we stay free and that we have the best lives possible for everyone.
Garrit: One thing that is dominating this election cycle is border security. I hear a lot from people, particularly those who support Abbott, that Texas does not have any sort of authority or legal authority to enforce or secure the border. So, what do you think that Texas has the constitutional authority to have a border policy and to secure its border?
Tom: My consultants told me that when I’m running from our race, I should stay out of other races. I say, “too late!” I’ve already been a big critic of the Governor. I’ve already endorsed Don Huffines. I’m not going to back off of that when I’m running for State Representative. I think the fundamental problem that Greg Abbott has, whether it comes to the border or any other thing having to do with the federal government, is that he does not understand that he’s the leader of a sovereign state. He doesn’t understand in his gut what a sovereign state means in our constitutional framework. Essentially, Greg Abbott was raised in the legal system. The subliminal thing that they teach in law school, which didn’t catch with me because I was an old man, is that if the Supreme Court said it, I believe it, and that settles it. “The Supreme Court is our supreme ruler.” Greg Abbott was attorney general for a little while, and he was over the Solicitor General. I think to this day, he (Abbott) still thinks of himself in the governor position, which is a very different position than Attorney General, as Solicitor General to the Supreme Court. He thinks of them as his boss, and he has to go supplicate to them to get them to tell him it’s okay to do things. That is just historically wrong, constitutionally wrong, and legally wrong. If we’re going to get our freedom back, we have to have Governors, especially a Governor of Texas, that understands his responsibility is to, under the Constitution, secure the rights of Texans against all different players that will lie—whether that’s the federal government, the state government, corporations, criminals, criminal gangs, etc. A sovereign state doesn’t ask permission. In multiple places, the United States Constitution talks about how states can, under invasion, take action without waiting on the feds. We have the authority, whether the Supreme Court says it or not, to defend our borders and defend the people of Texas against invasion. We are obligated to do so. The federal government is falling on the job. Not only are they just not enforcing the law on the border, but they have also become part of the criminal conspiracy with the cartel to violate our laws on human trafficking and all that other stuff. When they’re using taxpayer money to bus these people that the cartels, essentially, hand them over to the border patrol and the border patrol hands them over to the charities funded by the government, they have become part of the cartel conspiracy. They are facilitating billions and billions of dollars of profit for the cartel. It is the responsibility of our Governor to enforce Texas law (by the way he can avoid a whole bunch of problems if he just starts providing the resources to enforce the law). We got to build our wall, we got to do everything possible, and we got to use RICO statutes. Of course, that’s the Governor’s responsibility. It’s not a state legislator’s responsibility. So, I haven’t been talking about that as much in my campaign. What I can do is provide moral support to the executives that are doing that important work—whether that’s the sheriffs, the prosecutors, the local counties, our State Guard, National Guard, or DPS. I can make sure we have enough funding to fund the wall and to fund all the law enforcement that we need. Abbott’s history is one of “say a lot and do very little.” In my opinion, we’re not going to solve this border invasion thing until we get us a new governor. If the people in my district send me to the legislature, they can be guaranteed that I will be somebody fighting for the sovereignty of Texas and defending the rights of Texans as best I can as a legislator.
Garrit: Some legislators tried to curtail the governor’s emergency powers and authority. What are your thoughts on that?
Tom: Yeah. That was the main thing I spent my time on this last session. I had a wish list of legislation, many of which got introduced, but the winter storm stole a lot of attention away from the stuff that I got introduced to. So, I decided to focus on trying to get limits…I’m greatly influential in five Republican Party platform planks. I’m a big fan of the legislative priority process. The chair of the time, Allen West, had made executive overreach one of his personal goals. It had been at the top of the list of the lead legislative priorities committee in 2020. But the voters at the state convention put it at number nine. So, Chair West made it a special provision. So, I decided to focus on that because my Texas Constitutional Enforcement group had exploded as a result of COVID. The two platform points I got in 2020 were “lockdowns never again” and “an addition to the Texas Bill of Rights to respect the natural inalienable right to decline vaccination” because I knew vaccine mandates were coming back in June of 2020. I knew that they were going to try the fascist way of doing it, which is implementing them through big corporations that we’re beholden to the government. That’s why I talk about “unalienable”. Unalienable is a very important word. It means that you can’t bargain it away. Usually, it’s associated with bodily autonomy. You can’t sell yourself into slavery. You can’t do a deal that says a condition of getting employment is having sex. There are all sorts of unalienable rights that people have when they’re doing business with private actors. I strongly believe that a contract in any form that requires people to take a vaccination is a violation of their inalienable rights. But executive overreach is a big-time deal for me. I think that the Texas Disaster Act is unconstitutional and needs to be greatly modified. I spent a lot of time proposing amendments—many of which got into the main bill in the House. I supported what came out of the Senate, but they had different approaches in the House and the Senate. I think, to a certain extent, it was designed to fail in the end. I mean, we got some good stuff. Lois Kolkhorst got us where we can have visitation in nursing homes. We got it where the governor can’t get involved in between healthcare providers and their patients anymore to privilege COVID. We protected churches. We protected guns, but we fell one vote short in the House for getting a prohibition on mask mandates. So, there’s lots of work that’ll have to be done. I hope to be part of future efforts to make sure that future Governors never engage in this tyranny. Envision Beto having power like this, and what he’s going to use it for. Don’t give a blank check to future dictators. We can’t do that in Texas anymore. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
Garrit: You spoke earlier about protecting groundwater. Can you talk more about that?
Tom: In Texas, we’ve never really codified how to protect the property rights of the water underneath our lands. As a result, the Supreme Court went ahead and said, “if the legislature is not going to do it, we’ll do it ourselves.” We’ve got this idea of the “rule of capture.” Which is, if you can stick a pipe and a pump down into an aquifer and bring it up, then you get it and you can do anything you want with it and make as much money as you want to. Well, I think that is a tragedy of the commons. The thing is designed to drain an aquifer in pretty short order. I think it’s wrong from a natural rights perspective and a property rights perspective. I think if you’re sitting over an aquifer, you have the right to use it for your use—whether it’s residential farming and ranching, a city, or even a business. But if you stick a pipe in and you start sucking it dry from underneath your neighbor, that’s not your right. You’re taking what is the rights of others. That’s a taking property. We’ve got to change the regulatory environment in the law to get this imbalance. The reason why all of this has happened is that we’ve got incredible growth going on in Texas—the suburban areas are growing especially on the I-35 corridor. They need water. The place where the developers have decided that they can get water the easiest is the aquifers under my district in rural Texas. As a result, they started pumping underneath my district over the last few years to ship it to San Antonio. The water levels of the wells in my district have been dropping hundreds of feet. My well has dropped 30 feet over the last decade. Some of my neighbors a little bit closer to where the big wells that are going to San Antonio are called Vista Ridge have dropped hundreds of feet. That’s costing them 10s of 1000s of dollars. There will come a day where you can’t go deep enough, you can’t drill, and you couldn’t even spend money to go get more water. I just think that’s a disaster in the making. It’s a disaster not only for rural Texans in my district but for the people who will live in those developments in the future when that water runs out. We’ve got to figure out a better way to get the water. I talked to a Land Commissioner candidate, and I said, “Hey, you guys develop resources under Texas lands to pay for the permanent school fund.” I said, “a lot of its oil and gas.” I said, “Hey, do you have brackish water underneath Texas lands?” They said “yes.” I said “hey, why don’t we use some of that cheap natural gas we’re getting off of Texas lands and use that to power desalinization and ship desalinated brackish waters from Texas and make some money for the permanent school fund.” That’ll take some of the pressure off of trying to drain aquifers underneath my constituents’ district. So, we got to be creative about how we get water to grow, but we got to stop destroying the future for a whole generation of Texans.
Garrit: How will you take on the establishment, and how confident are you that we will be able to pass conservative legislation in this next session?
Tom: I think a lot of that depends on what the voters in the GOP primary do this time around. I consider this upcoming primary is the most important primary that Texans have seen in generations. It’s setting the tone for how we’re going to resist the federal tyranny, and how we’re going to stop the border invasion. There are so many things that are going on—almost all of our statewide officials are being challenged by active challengers, and we have a whole bunch of open seats because of redistricting and retirements. So, if we get the numbers of conservatives who can come out of this process in the primary, and we have a large freshman class, I think we’ve got a shot at changing the culture. I think the freshmen class, if we unite, can go in and say “no, we got the numbers here, guys; we need to change things around here.” These are not usual times; we don’t need politics as usual. Davy Crockett said, “first make sure you’re right, then go ahead.” I don’t want to go into the Texas Legislature being a pariah the way so many Liberty champions have in the past. I’m willing to do that. I consider myself politically dead. One of my favorite movies is “Twelve O’Clock High” with Gregory Peck. It’s World War Two precision daylight bombing and they’re getting ripped to shreds. Gregory Peck is Colonel Savage, and he comes in to be that “kick butt” commander who’s going to whip them into shape. What he tells them for the first meeting is “you guys are getting ripped to shreds because you’re afraid and you’re doing stupid things when you’re afraid.” He says, “we’re going to fix that. I want you to consider yourself dead. Now that you’re dead, you can just worry about doing your job. If you do your job, you’re more likely to come home anyway.” So, my deal is I don’t care whether I get reelected or not. I’m going in there to do the best I can and to represent the people of my district and the principals, priorities, and platform of my party. If that means that I don’t get the money to come back or the establishment funds somebody to run against me next time, so be it, but we’re going to go give it the college try. I think the rank and file of the Republican Party, or certainly the activists, know something is bad. If you look at support for the Abbott supporters versus the hashtag ABA (Anybody But Abbott) in the Republican primary, all of the grassroots activists have the hashtag ABA. I mean, it’s only the establishment types that are on the Abbott side. I think it’s the mission of the principled grassroots candidates in these primaries, to make sure that the low-information voters understand the nature of what’s wrong. Politics as usual is not going to cut it. Special interest is not going to cut it. We’ve got to unite around a principle to fight back against the tyrants in DC. We can’t do that unless we’re united in Texas in a way that’s focused on the priorities of the party and the conservative values of the voters instead of the special interest. So, I’m guardedly optimistic. One of my favorite actors, Clint Eastwood, in his movie Magnum Force said,” a man’s got to know his limitations.” I know that I can’t get everything done. Firstly, I am 1 in 150 legislators. I have lots of things I want to do. That’s one of the things I like about the legislative priorities process of the Republican Party is that we get together in an organized fashion, talk about it, and everybody deliberates together, and then we vote on it so that we do focus our energy on the things that we think will best get us to where we want to be in the next legislative session. So, I’m going to have to prioritize, and I try to talk about what priorities I’ll do. There are some things I care about that I just don’t have time to get done. There are other issues that I am passionate about and have skill sets on; I’m going to lead on the water stuff, I’m going to lead on the pushback on the feds, and I’m going to lead on executive overreach. We’ll try to hit the ground running as a freshman.
Garrit: Do you have any final things to say as we end the interview?
Tom: I can’t emphasize enough what a pivotal moment in history we are at. At this moment, we have globalist and Marxist forces in charge in DC trying to take over everything we hold dear. I don’t think the feds will ever limit their power. Even if we sweep with a GOP takeover of the House and Senate, we’re still going to have all these bureaucrats that are willing to use executive orders in all sorts of tricky ways to try to destroy what we have in Texas. We’ve got to survive the next year through just personal resistance and organized resistance outside of our government. It’d be nice to have a Governor that would help in that regard. I’m not super optimistic that we’re going to get that. You know, if all else fails, read the instructions: the Declaration of Independence and our constitutions. It’s time to get back to those basics, to implement those basics, and to enforce those basics so that we start rebuilding the wonderful opportunities that we will have if we can gain our freedom here in Texas. That’s what I’m going to the legislature for. That’s why I’m hoping people will go to tomglass.org and donate to us or go to Tom Glass for Texas on Facebook and follow the campaign. I have a lot of volunteers coming to the district from outside the district to help block walk because they feel so passionately about the vision that I’ve been articulating here today, and I welcome more help in that regard.
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.