At a forum in College Station on Wednesday sponsored and produced by Grassroots Victory Texas and the Republican Party of Brazos County, four of the candidates vying to be the next governor of Texas met to answer questions and share their platforms.

Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who has avoided all forums and debates so far this election, once again declined to attend.

Businessman Danny Harrison, media personality Chad Prather, former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, and former State Sen. Don Huffines each spent time covering topics such as education, Texas sovereignty and mandates, and marijuana legalization. 

When asked about how Texas can create better outcomes for students in its education system, West responded by saying, “I don’t agree with outcomes. I believe in equality of opportunity. Good quality education leads to equality of opportunity.” 

West also suggested getting “cultural Marxism” such as critical race theory and social-emotional learning out of schools and returning to teaching “reading, writing, arithmetic, history, civics,” and trades such as mechanics and carpentry. 

“We’re not going to be funding independent school districts that want to push Marxism,” West proclaimed. 

“We need to give our students in Texas a foundation of morals,” said Huffines, who plans on returning prayer to every classroom in the state. 

“I’m not worried about litigation. I’m not worried about the federal government because I’m not gonna ask permission from the federal government to do anything,” Huffines added.

Huffines also championed school choice, explaining that competition breeds quality.

Harrison said he agreed with school choice, acknowledging that there isn’t a “one size fits all” school. As a commercial landscaper, Harrison said he is a “big believer in the trades.”   

“Plumbers, electricians, car mechanics, air-conditioning and heating guys—we have a huge need for that in this state,” said Harrison. 

“The opportunities are unlimited for entrepreneurship in those areas,” said Harrison, promising to aggressively push training in those trades.

“Our public school systems are not education systems; they are built on the Dewey and Mann systems of humanism, and they’re churning out little socialists,” said Prather. “What we have to do is burn the entire system to the ground. It is corrupt. We know that it is wrong, and it’s an indoctrination camp that is brainwashing our children.”

Prather wants teachers’ roles to change so they can evaluate and teach critical thinking skills, rather than teaching to a test.

“Stop making ideologies into policies, especially at the expense of our children,” ended Prather. 

Moving from education to Texas sovereignty, all candidates agreed that they would support a ballot referendum stating, “The State of Texas shall reassert its status as an independent nation.”

The candidates were also hit with questions on how they would keep the federal government in check regarding coronavirus mandates that infringe on Texas sovereignty. 

Harrison said he would “take action” if his executive orders are ignored by Texas government agencies and large corporations as Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders regarding vaccine and mask mandates have been. Specifically, he promised he would remove individuals from their office if they receive funding from the Texas government and require mandates, referencing state-funded hospitals and state college trustees. 

Prather referenced the “big target on the back of Texas right now” from the federal government, which “wants Texas to fall.” 

“The Texit bill needs to be on the ballot,” said Prather, stating it’s not a secession bill but rather a referendum that would open a pathway to secession if needed. 

“We’re the last bastion of freedom big enough in the United States to do that,” stated Prather, referencing his plan to fully utilize the 10th Amendment and hold the federal government’s feet to the fire in order to establish Texas sovereignty. 

West referenced Article I, Section VIII of the U.S. Constitution, where the duties of the federal government are fully laid out. Any duty not given to the federal government is given to the states and the people, according to the 10th Amendment.  

“We’re just gonna stand on the Constitution,” West said. 

“I’m not asking permission from the federal government to do anything,” said Huffines.

According to Huffines, the governor needs courage and leadership. One of his campaign slogans reads, “Leadership, no excuses.” 

“We’re tired of playing defense,” said Huffines regarding the federal government’s interference in Texas affairs. Huffines dared the federal government to enforce their rules in Texas. “We’ve got the Constitution on our side.”   

Each candidate was also asked to share their position on marijuana in Texas.

“I don’t believe it’s the government’s role to legislate morality. … I’m not going to run for governor for the purpose of advocating for certain things, such as the passage of the legalization of cannabis or even gambling,” said Prather. 

Prather instead advocated for placing the legalization of marijuana or gambling on the ballot for Texans to decide for themselves. 

“I say no to legalizing marijuana,” said West. “I do support the medical use of marijuana because there are many veterans that need to have that, but it has to be in a controlled way so that we don’t go down the path of the opioid crisis.”

“I’m against the full legalization of marijuana,” said Huffines. “I am for expanding the medical use of marijuana, and I am for the decriminalization of the laws, and I’m for equal enforcement of the laws around the state of Texas.” 

Huffines referenced the state of Colorado, where “everybody’s walking around stoned all the time,” and said that the government doesn’t need another revenue stream in Texas.

Harrison prefaced his statement by saying, “I don’t smoke cannabis.” He went on to extoll the financial benefits of legalizing cannabis, suggesting we treat it like soybeans and cotton and ship it all over the world. 

Harrison argued that “we have the opportunity to protect our young people” by regulating the market rather than allowing access only via drug dealers.

The full video of the forum can be found here.  

The Republican primary is slated for March 1, with early voting beginning on February 14.