The interview took place via zoom on 09/22/22. Wesley Hunt is the Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 38. Hunt is a West Point graduate and a former Army Captain. After being honorably discharged, Hunt received an M.B.A. from Cornell University. Hunt will face Democrat Duncan Klussmann in the November 8th election. Hunt’s website can be found at wesleyfortexas.com
Garrit: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to do this. I’m a big fan. I’ve been following your race a lot, and I followed your race back in 2020 a lot. In fact, I was thinking about it today, I think that you may actually be the first political candidate I ever donated money to. So it’s just so good to be able to talk with you today. And with that, I wanted to ask you a few questions starting off with your background. You grew up in a military family, you graduated from West Point, you’ve been deployed in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and you’ve served as a captain in the Army. What lessons and skills from those experiences do you think will help you best serve in Congress?
Wesley: Well thank you for having me, and that’s a great question. The biggest thing is, I think, just having perspective and understanding just how ridiculously amazing this country is. Once you spend some time in combat, spend some time in the Middle East, and spend two years in Saudi Arabia, you find out that America is the greatest country in the world and it is not even close. On our very worst day, we’re better than anybody else. Now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to try to strive to get better. If we’re looking at a race between us and every other country in the world, we are leagues ahead. I think that what that experience really gave me is a true appreciation for the country, a true appreciation for our Constitution, and a true appreciation for those that are willing to sacrifice to defend our Constitution. This is the only place in the world where that happens, and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.
Garrit: Yeah, and your district, I think it’s an R+13, is a relatively conservative district. It’s seen as a safe Republican district. So, you’re more than likely going to be elected in November. Given your experience in the military, and as you’ve campaigned around the district and as you look at these issues, are there any committees that you’re really looking at and wanting to serve on?
Wesley: Yeah, great question. So, Houston, Texas is known as being the “energy capital of the world.” It has been that way for about the last 30 or 40 years–since I was really born. What they’ve done with this new district is–now–the entire energy corridor is encompassed in this district. So, if Houston is the energy capital of the world and the entire energy corridor right here in Houston is now in my district, that makes me an energy congressman. With that comes the responsibility of an effort on my part to try to be on Energy and Commerce. It makes sense for the district, it’s my job to do the work for the people in this district, and every single job and every single life in this district is in some way tangentially related to the oil and gas and energy industry. So, I’m really fortunate to be in a district that gives me my mandate. God tells me exactly what I’m supposed to do, what I’m supposed to push for, and how I can best fight for our citizens in my district. I’m also interested in a lot of other different things too. My wife is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Texas Children’s. So, the number one industry is energy and the number two industry is healthcare. That’s exactly what Energy and Commerce primarily focuses on. So, to answer your question, E and C [Energy and Commerce] are what I’m going for and trying to get on as a freshman. If not, I’ll try again next go around.
Garrit: So, we’ll start off talking about energy. In a very broad sense, what do you think should be the energy strategy and the energy policies of the United States?
Wesley: So, we need to unleash American energy and unleash American LNG. The United States right now is about 13.8% of the world’s carbon emissions, and we’ve been declining our carbon footprint every year for the past decade. That’s actually because of fracking and our ability to replace coal with natural gas. I am all in favor of the next affordable and abundant energy swift for the future. You’re not getting there, though, without fossil fuels, and you’re not getting there without oil and gas in the discussion. I think that bridge is actually more about natural gas being exported to our neighbors–to our friendly neighbors–and throughout the entire world, and then eventually we’ll be hydrogen and nuclear–whatever that next thing is. However, you’re not going to get there without us. By the way, everything that you use–the computer that we’re talking to right now, the shoes on your feet, the clothes on your back–is petrochemicals. At some point, the bottle that you drink water from came from the ground. If everybody in this country miraculously snapped our fingers and everyone drove an EV [electric vehicle] tomorrow, we would only decrease the demand for a barrel of oil by about 8%. We would still use 92% of a barrel of oil on everything else–even to make the lithium-ion battery, even to make the windmill, and even to make any kind of renewable energy. The inputs are still going to be, you guessed it, oil and gas. So, our policy needs to be an all-hands-on-deck approach. I’ve been traveling around a lot doing a series called SavingAmericanEnergy.com and just talking to executives and talking to people that work in the field. Not a single one of them has said anything disparaging about renewables. No one in the oil and gas industry has said anything disparaging about renewables; they just understand that we’re not going to get to that next abundant source without us. Our policy needs to be including all forms of energy for the future, and not just punish the oil and gas companies, because, quite frankly, we need them now more than ever.
Garrit: You mentioned the series Saving American Energy. As you’ve traveled across the country and talked to all these energy workers and energy executives, have there been any really big takeaways from your conversations with those people?
Wesley: Oh my gosh, absolutely! When you talk to these people and see how hard they work every single day…I mean, they work these ridiculous shifts–12 on,12 off–over half the year. All they really want to do is just be able to provide for their family, then work hard and be able to save up for retirement, and then leave something behind for their children and their children’s children when it’s all said and done. This industry has a lot of people to do that even without having a college degree. I mean, there are people that are coming out of high school or maybe have gotten into a little bit of trouble before, and they enter the industry. They’re making six figures. So, when you talk to just everyday people that just want to earn a living and want the government to get out of their way, the lesson for me–being a future federal congressman–is the idea of keeping the federal government as small as possible to allow individual citizens to make their own decisions and operate in the best interest of there lies. That’s what I’ve learned from talking to these brave men and women out in the field.
Garrit: As you mentioned earlier, your district is the energy district and you have all these workers. In what ways have you seen the energy policies pursued by the Biden Administration affect those workers in your district?
Wesley: Yeah, it was an absolute job killer. I mean, on day one, they stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, we have so many restrictions that we can’t plan for the future, we have so many permitting issues, you have FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] sitting on all kinds of documents and permitting as well. It’s just like, what’s the point of doing this, particularly when now we’re going to import dirty oil from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and rogue nations like Russia that are now fueling our allies because they have nowhere else to go, and we have the Marcellus Shale, the Permian Basin, and Eagle Ford Shale right here in our country. This is absolute lunacy. I’m just going to be blunt about this administration: they’ve had an all-out war on the oil and gas energy industry in our own country, but to what gain and to what measure? I mean, the carbon footprint of the world continues to increase because we are not the problem. It’s Chinese and Indian coal. Russia, Africa, and South America don’t care about climate. So, the insinuation that we are going to destroy our entire energy industry at no gain to the globe, doesn’t add up to me. So, the policies of this current administration, I think, have been very detrimental not just to our climate, but also to our economy, and our everyday worker. We’ve got to get back on track. I’m literally running to make sure that we take back the House, hopefully, the Senate, and then we take back the House, the Presidency, and the Senate in 2024 to get our country back headed in a direction where, of course, we care about climate and of course we care about our earth. God knows…I have two little girls at home. I want them to grow up in a safe place, but also we have got to be pragmatic about this. We’re not going back to the Stone Ages. I can tell you that right now, we need natural gas, we need oil, and we need fossil fuels to continue to move for the future.
Garrit: Shifting our focus to foreign policy. You brought up Russia, China, and places like that. I wanted to get your thoughts on this since you do have that military background. We’ve seen a debate within the party about what exactly the role of the US should be in terms of its foreign policy strategy. You have those–maybe–like Congressman Thomas Massie from Kentucky who takes a more noninterventionist approach to foreign policy. Then you have those like Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who disagree with that and say that America needs to maintain and keep an active role on the global stage. I wanted to get your thoughts on that divide. Where do you fall in that debate?
Wesley: I fall where Wesley believes, and I get the point of the dichotomy between those two people. But the way I believe it is that it depends on the situation and depends on what’s going on. My first priority is always making sure that we take care of America’s priorities first, and that we cherish the lives and brave men and women of our country first. If that’s not the case, then I don’t want to get involved in it. If you’re looking at what’s happening in Ukraine, right now, though, we’ve sent over billions and billions of dollars. Quite frankly, I think we’ve sent over enough money. I think we should have, by the way, there’s a certain point where we need to help our allies and under no circumstances should be siding with Vladimir Putin–who was a former KGB member and a thug and a murderer. The billions of dollars that we have sent there are billions of dollars that are not going back to our own country and our own properties. This is the kind of thing that we have to balance and measure. But quite frankly, it depends on the situation and it depends on the conflict. I’m gonna give you an example, if there was a nation that attacked us, we should retaliate in full force. Now, does that mean that we should put boots on the ground in Ukraine? No. I actually don’t think we should do that. But there have been instances throughout the world where if there’s a direct terrorist threat to our well-being and to our health, we should absolutely tamp that threat out before it costs us American lives. Then there are certain instances where we should help out with equipment and money. So, I think where Massie is and where Crenshaw is, quite frankly…I don’t know. I think we have to have a discussion over what exact conflict we’re talking about, but my guess is it’s a combination of both.
Garrit: Another issue, more focused on national security, is the border. What are your thoughts on the recent busing of illegal immigrants and non-citizens to places like New York, Washington D.C., and Martha’s Vineyard?
Wesley: I think it is hilariously brilliant. I get a really nice chuckle when I watch people in Martha’s Vineyard that get 40 to 50 migrants and now they’re being “invaded” as if we haven’t had 4.5 million people enter the country in the southern border for the past couple of years. I find that to be really funny, and I think it also proves their hypocrisy. These are the same people that say “Black Lives Matter” or “brown people matter” and “come one come all” and “you’re all welcome, unless you’re in my city, or unless you’re in Martha’s Vineyard, and then we’re going to stick you out of our city,” like we should be doing on our southern border right now. I think what it does is clearly highlight the hypocrisy from the left, and I think it shows that we’re on the right side of history on this. We are a sovereign nation. We want to protect our borders. We should know who and what is coming in and out of our borders. Last I checked, we discovered that 80 people on a terrorist watchlist have entered our country at the southern border. We have had enough fentanyl pour into our country to kill every single American five times. Whoa, but you get a busload of people in Martha’s Vineyard, and hell done froze over. I think this is a great idea. I think we should keep doing it. By the way, we can’t deport these people because once they come here and seek asylum, the federal government, right now, won’t allow us to send them back. So, we’ll just send them to you and see how you like them.
Garrit: What can the federal government do to better secure the southern border and deal with this crisis that we’re seeing?
Wesley: I mean, it is clear that this current administration doesn’t care about it. I mean, Kamala Harris was put in charge of the border. She was made the border czar and hasn’t even been down to the border one time. Then two weeks ago, on national TV, [she] lied and said that the border was secure. That’s just flat-out not true. She has to know that because she’s the Vice President. So, for the next couple of months…look there’s nothing we can do about it. They are determined to have an open border policy. They did nothing about it for the past two years. That’s why it is very important for us to take back the House, and there are some things that we can accomplish legislatively when having the power of the purse to at least curtail what’s happening at the border, put pressure on Joe Biden, and put some bills in front of his desk that he has to say yes or no to and make him say no and make him veto border security. The more we see that, then the more transparency the country will see as to an administration that has adhered to policies that are not in the best interests of a sovereign nation.
Garrit: On that, in what ways have you seen this crisis at the border specifically affect your district and your home?
Wesley: Well, first of all, every single state in this country is a border state. We are all the border because we are all one country. If you look at what is happening with drugs in this country, like I just mentioned, enough fentanyl has poured into our country to kill every single American five times. Tomorrow, 300 people are going to overdose on fentanyl. The next day 300 people are going to overdose on fentanyl. That’s a plane ride crashing every single day, and we continue to do nothing about it. Also, if you notice, we’ve seen a serious crime raise that just completely ravishes our communities. We’re talking about every single state in this country right now is seeing a spike in crime. So, you have a combination of people that want to defund the police–or now as they are spinning it “reimagine policing” that’s not good for our citizens–we have a porous border where drugs are continuing to pour into our country, and the cartels around the border. That’s a very dangerous triumvirate of things to happen that this administration is completely ignoring. And then you wonder why you have these issues, and you wonder why they’re going to lose the House. So, look, I think if we can realize this one simple fact that making sure that protecting our citizens should be our number one priority and everything that we pass and everything we do serves that purpose, we’re going to be in better shape.
Garrit: When you get elected in November when you get to Congress, and, ideally, when Republicans take back control of the House, what do you think should be the first thing that gets addressed?
Wesley: I mean, I’m biased, but I think energy policy is something that we’ve seen as a global issue. Energy is a global commodity, and we have the capability right here in this country to supply our allies with clean, safe, American energy every single day. Energy policy is an issue of national security. That’s what I want to see done. I want to see us open up the Keystone XL Pipeline, I want to see us unleash American LNG, I want to see us unleash American oil and gas, and I want to see us set the tone for our energy future throughout the entire world. We have the opportunity with this next legislative session to do just that.
Garrit: You touched on this earlier in the interview. We brought up nuclear energy, and I wanted to see a little more into what are your thoughts overall on nuclear energy.
Wesley: Yeah, so if you’re noticing that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk right now are putting billionaires in space for sport; we have come a very long way technologically. I know that there is this negative connotation about nuclear energy given what happened with Chernobyl and in Japan, but I’m here to tell you that we’ve actually come a very long way in those forms of technology. We should certainly pursue them in conjunction with natural gas, in conjunction with oil, in conjunction with wind, and solar, in conjunction with all of these things. Again, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach. I’m actually a big fan of nuclear. I hope at some point, we can wake up and technologically get to the point where it’s as safe as it can possibly be so that we don’t have any long-term effects like we’ve seen with other meltdowns in the past. But that’s going to take time to get there. In the meantime, we have redundancies. Those redundancies come in the form of fossil fuels.
Garrit: To conclude the interview, I wanted to see if you had anything else that you would like to talk about or if you had any final things to say.
Wesley: No, I just really appreciate you doing this. I love seeing young people getting engaged–especially conservatives. It’s clear that the conservative movement has the best ideas, but oftentimes, we don’t get people in your generation or even in my generation as engaged as we should, because we get very passive about it. So, the fact that you and your organization are leading in on stuff like this in a very interesting time politically, I really applaud you. Please let me know how I can be helpful in any way. If you need me to come on campus at some point too, I’d love to do it. I love to do this in person and not over zoom. How about that?
Garrit: Yeah, that sounds good. I may have to take you up on that offer. Thank you so much for this interview. It was really great talking with you, and thank you again for running. It’s always good to see young people run for office, and it’s good to see young conservative people run for office. So, I just want to thank you for that. Good luck with the campaign, and I look forward to seeing you elected in November.