Editor’s Note: The Interview took place via Zoom on 1/27/22.
Garrit: Can you introduce yourself?
Larry: Yes. My name is Larry Mike. I am an Air Force veteran. I served in the Air Force for 10 years, four months, 28 days. I used to be a former Special Agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I trained in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. I carried my gun and badge on American Airlines. I’m a lawyer in Tarrant County—I do family law—protecting parental rights. I also do divorces and kid issues. Now, I’m running for Tarrant County District Clerk. It isn’t something that I thought I would ever do. In fact, politics is not my strong suit, but I think we’ve hit a roadblock when it comes to the progression of the district clerk’s office. The incumbent has been in office since 1995—since I was 17. That’s how long he’s been in office. I think he’s done a lot of positive things, but I think at a certain point you hit a plateau and you start to get diminishing returns. For me, what I want to do is, I want to build on that foundation and progress us forward. The technology needs to be revamped, the policies need to be reworked, and especially the taxpayers and the employees need to be taken care of.
Garrit: With you challenging an incumbent that’s been there for so long, what has been the reaction to your campaign?
Larry: I would say that it’s been good. At first, everyone was like, “who is this guy?” They called me a political neophyte. I don’t know anything about politics, I wasn’t really involved in politics, and they said, “You don’t challenge incumbents. You’re crazy for even doing this.” But things have gone really well. It’s gone well because he’s doing the old style of politicking—he is mudslinging a lot. I’m just not going to do that. That’s not my character. So, he’s doing a lot of positivity for my campaign, because there’s a stark contrast between the message of unity, working together, and taking care of the people that I’m presenting versus the “let me throw mud” approach of my opponent. So, things are going great.
Garrit: That’s good to hear. So, can you explain exactly what the function of the District Clerk is?
Larry: Yeah. A lot of people don’t know, right? They’re just like, “that’s just a nothing job.” But it has an important aspect. Basically, they are the Repository for the courts. So, in Texas, the District Clerk not only keeps records of all the court filings for your criminal cases, your civil cases, and your family cases, but they also collect all the fees that the courts have. They manage the registry of the funds. In other cases, they’re able to process the passport applications, and they do the jury process. Here in Tarrant County, they just focus on the management of the court records—it’s real simple.
Garrit: What was your takeaway from your time in the military, and how do you think that experience will transfer over to being a district clerk?
Larry: I come from a military family. So, my grandfather was military, my dad was military, my brother earned a Silver Star in Iraq, and my Cousin is military. So, it was ingrained in us when I grew up. Every Saturday morning back in the 80’s when I was growing up, my Dad would wake us up real early and we’d have to clean like it was a military base. So, that concept was in before I went to basic training. But the military taught you about leadership skills. The great thing that they did in basic training was that they break you down from the individual mentality, and they build you back up to know that it’s not just you—without the team, you can’t survive. So, that is the big concept for me on what the military did. When it comes to this job, even though you are elected the district clerk that doesn’t mean that you know everything. A man that thinks he knows everything will not listen to anything. The only way that you will be successful is with the team—the folks who are there and have been there for years. The role of the clerk is to go in, manage, come up with new ideas, and put in new policies to help folks, but you have to rely on those people that have been there. So, the big thing for me is teamwork.
Garrit: So, you’re running against the incumbent. Can you talk about some of the ways in which he has failed?
Larry: It is about people. The big thing about people is when you put a policy in place, the policies have to be weighed against whether they infringe on their rights. For instance, if you have a policy in place—this is what I’ve been hearing throughout this campaign—where the people can only take seven days per quarter (that’s 28 days per year). If in one quarter they want to take 10 days, those additional three days get subtracted from the next quarter. The downside to that is the people who stay and have their time in the clerk’s office accumulate leave faster than they can take it. So, when it’s time for them to retire, the county only buys back 400 hours a leave—if they have 1000 hours of leave, they’ve lost 600 hours of leave that they rightfully earned. That’s a policy that needs to change. There’s also the policy regarding court records. We have this repository that’s electronic—you’ve got places like Harris County, Collin County, and Dallas County where you can go on and look at things without having to pay additional fees. Now, there’s an argument there. For me, Tarrant County is one of the highest tax counties there is. Taxes pay to run the government, pay for the salaries, pay for building upkeep, and pay for the system that houses these records. The government shouldn’t be digging into your pocket, taking out extra money. To force the taxpayers to go back in after they’ve paid for something and say, “you owe another fee” is bad policy. I want to get rid of that.
Garrit: Why should voters support you over the incumbent?
Larry: Well, I think we’ve hit a roadblock. So, I had a great-grandmother, and she was driving this car before I was even thought of being born. But there came a time when the family had to gather around with her and take away the car keys. It was tough because she’s been doing it for so long, and she was good at it. At a certain point, things didn’t progress as they should, and it was time to take those keys away and give them to somebody else. That’s where we’re at right now. We have an 80-year-old career politician—who’s been in office for 27 years—running for another term. He has refused to incorporate any new ideas. The system that we have in place now was built in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president—that’s what we’re using now in 2022. I want to move on from that system. We have things that we can do so much better. The argument of the incumbent is that they researched these ideas 12 years ago, and they weren’t a good thing. Well, things progress quickly in the span of 12 years. I’m one to look further and think outside of the box. If taxpayers are paying all this money for their government to run, then we need to give the taxpayers the best product possible. The second thing that I think sets me apart from my opponent is that I’m a people person. I can’t do everything on my own. With the way that I want to bring in this new technology and run the office, we have to have the experts in place. With this platform, I want to have judges, clerks, lawyers, paralegals, and citizens on it because they are going to use it. I want to have lawyers and paralegals they’re going to use it. I’m military. I had people that I was in charge of that were brand new in the military, but they probably had ideas as well. If it was a good idea, we run with it. If we use their idea, guess who’s getting credit? Not me. They’re getting credit. The only credit I need to receive is from failures and missteps. I need to eat those with some Humble Pie and go out in front of the taxpayers and say “yep, my fault.” I think those are some aspects that set me apart from the incumbent.
Garrit: What’s your top priority if you do get elected?
Larry: People—that’s the biggest priority. Throughout this campaign, I have had people contact me and their big thing is, “do you mean what you say, or are you just politicking?” I do mean what I say. This country is in the shape it is in not because of the people that live here but because of the career politicians who have caused a lot of this divide. I just have this thing against career politicians. I feel like you should go in and serve the people. I’ve told people that I only want to be in office for four years—that’s my dream. More than likely it will take two terms to get what I want done. Once I get it done, I’m stepping away.
Garrit: Are there any other issues that you hope to address?
Larry: Yeah, innovation. I want to get a new system in place. Also, I want to look at the money that we collected from the people. I know that we have a budget that gets set every year, and one of the key things about the incumbent is he touts that he gives $500,000 to $600,000 back every year from his budget. That’s a lofty figure. It’s great to be fiscally conservative and work under budget. What I want to do is explore that—if you’re giving back that much money, what isn’t getting done? What aren’t we looking at? What are we taking care of? So, I would like to explore the policies and ensure that we are not only doing the right things but also that we aren’t making any missteps along the way.
Garrit: You talked about how you take issue with career politicians. The 2022 election cycle is shaping up to be very interesting, to say the least. One of those races is, of course, the governor’s race. Do you have any thoughts on that race?
Larry: Oh, man I do! I like Chad Prather. I’ve met him in person. I’ve got his cell phone number. He’s just an all-around good guy. He’s not a politician. He’s this blue-collar cowboy that wants to fix things. He tells it like it is, and I really like his style. I’ve met Don Huffines, and he is a straight shooter as well. I haven’t met Allen West, but I’ve been keeping very close track of Allen West. With regards to the incumbent, he’s the incumbent. There are things that he did that I didn’t agree with. I’ve never been a fan of any type of mandates—I’m especially not a fan of closing churches down. I haven’t been a fan of anything that infringes on your rights. To me, the Constitution is a contract that limits the government’s power to intrude on human rights. At no time should a government overstep that. Look, I get it. We had this virus that is ravaging the country and we didn’t have any vaccines or anything like that, but we didn’t take into account what would happen if we started shutting down small businesses and locking people up in their homes. There’s been a lot of damage done. I just didn’t like that. So, when it comes to that race, I like Prather, Huffines, and West.
Garrit: I’ve met Chad, I’ve talked to him, and I’ve actually interviewed him before. He’s a great guy, and I certainly see the appeal—even though I am a Huffines guy. I think that we would be in a pretty good position if any one of those guys becomes Governor.
Larry: You know, the other day, while I was putting up signs, I came across a Huffines sign that someone had cut up. So, of course, I took a picture and sent it to Huffines. It’s unfortunate because that’s fear. Someone is fearing Huffines. That may be a good thing because he’s making waves.
Garrit: You have mentioned that you’re a “walk away” from the Democratic Party. With that, how would you describe your current political philosophy?
Larry: When it comes to being a Democrat the big thing that you have to ask yourself is “why?” What a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of minorities have conservative values. I grew up in the church—my dad was a pastor. So, the Bible is a big portion of my life. A lot of things that I believe in are pro-life. The second thing is I’m a big believer in being able to protect yourself and protect your property. Those are two main issues that always conflicted with the other side. Then I asked myself “why am I here?” I couldn’t gather why I was with the Democratic Party. One of the things that always stuck out to me is they only look at race and my skin color. To them, race is a big factor in everything. You have to have this victim mentality that if anything happens then it’s automatically racist. I graduated high school, I’ve got two degrees, I served in the military, I was in law enforcement, and I’m a lawyer. That victim mentality goes against everything that I was able to work with and have with God’s help. It’s gone so far to the point where you don’t even recognize that party anymore. It’s not like the southern, “blue-dog” Democrats where you had these conservative values. Now, it’s gotten to a point where I have no idea what’s going on. As far as my values, the big thing that I harp on a lot is the rights of the sovereign people. Government cannot intrude on our lives—I despise that. We’ll fight that every step of the way. We’re not a democracy, we’re a constitutional republic. The Constitution is not an evolving, “living” document, it’s a contract. There are four corners of that document, and it says exactly what it says—no ifs, ands, or buts. When it comes to the issue of life, people may call us bigots, but abortion is murder. On the issue of guns, people may say that “you should have a mental health check and all of that,” but I’ve never broken the law, I’ve never been a criminal, and it is my God-given right to have these guns. I think we need to eliminate Planned Parenthood. We need to take care of our veterans. We need to back our boys in blue. My philosophy really comes down to liberty and being an individual. We’re individuals, we have our own beliefs, and we have our own rights.
Garrit: When did you walk away from the Democratic Party? Was there any particular event that made you leave?
Larry: Oh, yeah. So, there’s this group called Black Lives Matter. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. When they came on the scene, they portrayed themselves to be this group that supports Black lives, justice, and all of that. You know, looking at all these protests and riots I wanted to do my own research. Now mind you, before then I voted for Mitt Romney, and I voted for Republican judges—I guess I was a weak Democrat. When Black Lives Matter came on the scene, the first thing I did was I went to their website to see what they are about. I read their “about me” on their website, and it was an agenda. When they say, “Black Lives Matter,” one thing that they didn’t say was Black men. They don’t mention Black men—that was a clue. I was watching their speeches and seeing their founders say, “we are trained Marxists.” Marxism goes against everything that we were founded on. Another thing was that one of their founders purchased four homes worth about $3.2 million. One of the homes in Topanga Canyon, California—which is a predominantly (I think) 80% Caucasian neighborhood—they built a $30,000 fence around that home. They used Caucasian realtors and Caucasian financing, but then they go on Twitter and say, “capitalism is racist towards Black people.” It makes no sense. That’s the biggest grift there is, and it’s full of hypocrisy. Another factor was this group called “The Squad.” They call themselves “Democratic Socialist,” but you know you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig. You can claim that “Democratic Socialism” is this new thing, but it’s not. Socialism is socialism, and it goes against everything that we’ve stood for. Another thing is we have a guy—who’s sitting in office—who goes on this urban broadcast and says, “you ain’t Black if you don’t vote for me.” I guess I’m not Black.
Garrit: You are in Tarrant County, and in 2020 Tarrant County flipped to Joe Biden. In 2018, Beto won the county. What do you think the future holds for these historically Republican areas that surround urban areas?
Larry: When you hear those figures, you also hear people talk about election fraud. So, there are one or two things that happened. There was either major election fraud, or there were a lot of people who voted for Biden and then on the down-ballot voted for Republicans. Right. When I look at these trends, especially in urban areas where the Democrats have made a lot of gains, what I’ve noticed throughout this campaign trail is there are areas that are not being canvassed. There are areas that are being totally ignored. I’m waiting for March 2 to see what’s going to happen—whether I continue on or if I’m done. What I want to do is I want to create my own club, because on the campaign trail we go to all the Republican clubs, but they never leave us fired up and ready to work. I don’t want to sit around, drink, and bring in guest speakers—I want boots on the ground. I want activists, and I want workers. Our main goal is to convert because there are more people out there who are conservative but haven’t opened up their eyes. I think we can change these areas that have gone blue if we go in there. No one came to me and said, “hey, this is what conservatism is.” They treat it like it’s an exclusive club, but it’s not. I use the analogy of Christianity. We’re not taught to just have Christianity and keep it in this little bubble. We’re taught to spread it to everybody on this earth, but you don’t go to somebody and say, “you’re going to hell. You got demons in you.” They’re not going to convert if you do that. I see on Twitter and Facebook where people go and “own the libs” and that’s not going to convert anyone to your side. For me, you need to find common ground. When I’m hitting areas that are not normally hit, we talk about guns. I talk about protecting yourself and protecting your property, and they believe in that. When I talk about property taxes, even though that has nothing to do with my position, people want to keep more money in their pockets. I think when it comes to the future, we can find a way to make inroads. We just need people on the ground to go in there and do the work.
Garrit: Are there any final things you want to say as we conclude the interview?
Larry: I’d like to say that I think people’s eyes are being opened to this political process. They’re understanding that it’s not just the federal elections that determine what goes on. The important elections are your local elections—these are the ones who actually control our day-to-day lives. When it comes to the political process—no matter what side you vote on—register and go vote. I think the last round of voting that we had with the constitutional amendments had about 8% turnout in Tarrant County—which was ridiculous. So, people have to understand that local elections do matter—they affect our lives more than federal elections. If there are any Tarrant County voters reading this, I hope that they vote for me.
Editor’s Note: Check out Larry Mike’s website at larrymike.com.