In this interview, Brandon Waltens, managing editor for Texas Scorecard, is joined by Lt. Colonel Allen West, candidate for Texas governor. From West’s experiences as chairman of the Texas GOP to his stance on abortion, Texas Scorecard shares the conversation.
A Brief Biography
Born into a career military family in Atlanta, Georgia, West’s fate as a G.I. was sealed when he joined the United States Army in 1982. He graduated from the University of Tennessee and holds two master’s degrees from Kansas State University and the Command and General Staff Officer College, respectively.
After retiring from the armed forces in 2004, West pursued a career in policy, first running for Congress in 2008. He eventually served as the representative for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District from 2011 to 2013. In 2015 West and his family relocated to Garland, Texas. In 2019 West ran for chairman of the Texas Republican Party, where he served for one year before resigning and announcing his campaign for governor.
“We’re not a constitutional monarchy. We don’t live by edicts and orders. Unfortunately, the governor opened up Pandora’s box last year,” said West on the issue of COVID-19. When asked about employer vaccine mandates, West said, “I think the citizens should have the type of leadership that would stand and say, ‘I’m aligning myself with the liberty and freedom of the citizens of Texas, and not the corporate interests out there.’”
West also pointed to Florida, saying, “Governor [Ron] DeSantis is even saying, ‘You don’t get to come in here if you’re going to mandate people to have the vaccine.’”
“That’s what I think we should have here in Texas,” he added.
West expressed his position that Gov. Greg Abbott could be doing more to secure the southern border. In reference to Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” West said the effort “falls way short.”
“I’ve been down there on the border, and I see the National Guard of Texas just standing there observing. … In some cases, we’ve seen them helping people come across the river into the State of Texas.”
West cited his military experience for potential solutions to the border crisis, claiming that only a fraction of our available manpower is being utilized to secure the border.
“I sat down with some former Army officers who were military planners, and we did a mission analysis; we’ve got 26,000 total in our Texas Military Department. So you’ve got to have the boots on the ground to provide that deterrent force along with integrated systems like ground sensors and aerial surveillance systems.”
In addition to manpower, West believes a well-rounded approach to securing the border involves going after organized crime.
“I think the other thing you have to do is go after the cartels, designate them as transnational narco criminal or terrorist organizations. Find their assets. Freeze their assets. Seize those assets. The cartels have money in banks in the state of Texas.”
West also discussed a remittance tax.
“Another thing that we need to talk about is taxing the remittances of illegal immigrants that are flowing out of the State of Texas back to Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. Let’s say that we did that at 10 percent on these wire transfers. Think about the money that we could raise for our border security fund.”
West reiterated that the constitutions of Texas and the U.S. grant the governor power to repel an “invasion.”
“The interesting thing is that if you read Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution, it says the federal government is supposed to protect every state in the union from invasion. Article 1, Section 10 Clause No. 3, of the Constitution says what states can do when actually invaded. Article 4, Section 7 of the Texas state Constitution says specifically as the governor and the commander of the Texas military forces, you’re supposed to use the militia to repel invasions. So, I don’t know why this isn’t being done.”
West called the current tax system in Texas “abhorrent.” He said he believes the state should be using excess funds from the annual budget to pay for operating costs of school districts, and simultaneously move away from a progressive tax system he says is founded on Marxist principles.
“I find it pretty abhorrent that here in Texas, you can pay off your mortgage, but you still don’t own your home. So we need to transition away from this problem in Texas. In the interim, we need to codify into law that 70, 80, maybe 90 percent of the budget surplus that we have between these cycles gets dedicated to property tax relief.”
West also believes that too much taxpayer money gets wasted on “redundant” government systems.
“In 2016 I sat on The Sunset Advisory Commission. We sit there and come up with all of these recommendations for programs and agencies that need to be sunsetted because they’re ineffective, inefficient, redundant. How many of these have actually gone away? As governor, I want to sit back down and look at all of those previous Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations and start saying, ‘Why is this agency still here?’”
West said he believes the recently enacted Heartbeat Act is a good start for Texas, but he added that abortion should be stopped at all stages of gestation, with one major exception.
“With an incident of rape, first of all, that’s a violent crime. And I think we need to be sensitive and understanding that that’s a violation of their body,” said West.
Although he said he believes victims of rape should be able to choose the option of abortion prior to the development of a fetal heartbeat—while adding that he hoped they would not—West believes Texas has a long way to go in restricting the practice.
“Now, it doesn’t go far enough. It’s still civil, not a criminal offense. That’s a real personal issue for me because this has had the most detrimental effect on the black community. The second-largest facility for murdering unborn babies in the world is located in Houston, Texas. The Planned Parenthood clinic is on I-45 on the south side, in a black neighborhood, and I’ve also said I want to see that Planned Parenthood clinic closed now.”
The Fight Ahead
When asked about facing the hefty opposition of Abbott in a potential primary runoff, West said he is up for the challenge.
“Was it too late when 183 Texans stood at the Alamo and faced 3,000 to 4,000? It’s never too late. I was a paratrooper combat veteran in the United States Army. I don’t care how much money you’ve got in your war chest. It’s about whether or not you’re going to stand up and fight.”
Interview summary written by Griffin White.