By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Retired Lt. Col. Allen West, the former Texas GOP chairman and Florida congressman, has joined another Republican, former State Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas, in challenging Gov. Greg Abbott.

It comes after the governor secured former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and as his campaign announced a record high $55 million cash on hand.

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When asked if this race was an uphill climb, West said, “There’s a reason where I wear my paratrooper wings wherever I go out because paratroopers always look for the tough missions. $55 million in your pocket doesn’t matter to me. It’s irrelevant to me really because the most important thing to me is standing on truth, standing on the rule of law and what’s in your heart. What do you want to do and what do you want to see for the future.”

West also explained why he decided to run against the governor.

He cited the situation at the southern border and how Abbott responded to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. “You talk to the people down in Del Rio, you talk to the people in Brackettville down in Kinney County or down in McAllen or Roma who are afraid to go out at night, I think there’s more they expect out of their leadership. What is happening to our small businesses that are out there that got crushed last year because we took away their liberty. We took away their ability to go out and earn a living because someone made a decision about who or what is essential.”

West said his top priority is securing the Texas border.

Amid the highest number of people crossing into the U.S. illegally in 20 years, West accused President Joe Biden’s administration of implementing an open-borders agenda.

On his campaign’s website, West says if the administration continues with its policy, he would establish a Texas Border Patrol Agency with the powers to arrest, detain, and deport those here illegally.

When asked under what authority the state would have West said, “It’s very simple, when you go to the U.S. Constitution and you go to Article 1, Section 10, and Clause 3 and Article 4, Section 4, it is a responsibility of the federal government to protect states from invasion, that’s what the founding fathers called it. But when you have an abdication of the constitutional duty and responsibility of the federal government, the Constitution allows states to protect themselves when they see an imminent danger. The U.S. Constitution gives the states the ability to protect their sovereignty and Texas has a 1,200 mile border.”

West said he would eliminate in-state tuition for those in the U.S. illegally.

Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor at SMU, says while this hasn’t been tested, West’s policy would likely face a legal challenge because he says the Constitution contemplates an invasion from a foreign power, and that under the Constitution, Congress has the authority over immigration.

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West said another priority is to, ultimately, eliminate the property tax in favor of a state consumption tax, something he says Republicans want. “They want to see property taxes relieved. They want to see property tax reform. It means I think they want to see a different tax system.”

He said he has begun talking to economists about how the state could transition to a consumption tax.

Regarding the rising number of COVID-19 cases, primarily among the unvaccinated, West said he opposes vaccine and mask mandates.

He said he decided not to get the vaccine after his two adult daughters became sick after getting their shots. “The thing we can’t get past in our country or in Texas, if we take away the thing that’s most essential: which is liberty. Let people get good information and make the best possible decision for themselves.”

As we reported earlier this month, the Abbott campaign’s internal polls taken between June 14 and 17 among 446 likely Republican primary voters, Abbott received 69% support, while West received 13% and Huffines received 3%.

The survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies also showed Sid Miller at 3%.

At the time, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner was considering running for governor but has since decided to run for re-election.

So far, no major Democrat has announced a run for governor.

The primaries are set for March, for now. They could be delayed because of redistricting.

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Full Interview With Allen West