A former Wichita Falls resident has thrown his name into the ring to be the next Governor of Texas. Lee Weaver, currently of Austin, TX, officially announced his candidacy earlier this month.

Weaver is currently one of five candidates running for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination and will compete in the primary in March. That winner will likely compete in the general election against incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in November 2018.

Weaver lived in Wichita Falls from March 2000 until August 2014 with his wife, Kandyce, and four children. He is best known locally for his writing in a local newspaper and being involved in local events and politics.

Weaver outlines his reasons for running for office and his platform on his website, MeAgainstGregAbbott.com. His campaign's motto is 'Save Texas, Save The World.' In order to get to the heart of what that means, I reached out to Weaver to ask him the following questions about his candidacy and his views of the Wichita Falls and Texas political climate.

You've never held elected office before, what made you decide to run for governor?

I didn’t set out intending to run. Our state needs (at least) two-party leadership so that it will represent ALL people. I determined the first (and easiest) step was to replace the Republican governor. It’s a statewide race, so the election would be immune to Republican gerrymandering of districts. Plus, Greg Abbott is extremely unpopular and ineffective, making him the most vulnerable incumbent to go after. It was only after thinking through those steps that I even began to consider that I was the right person to take him on.

How do you feel the political climate of Wichita Falls represents the state as a whole?

It represents a lot of the other rural and small town parts of Texas, especially in its resistance to social progress and its hypocrisy with regard to government (meaning, residents of cities like Wichita Falls rely disproportionately upon government spending and assistance, but are far more likely to not support government involvement of that kind.)

If elected, what would you like to accomplish as Governor?

I want to do three things:

  1. Create a level political playing field in Austin, so that good ideas (like guaranteeing nutrition for all Texans) will have the same chance of becoming law as bad ideas (the State examining the contents of one’s undergarments before entering a public restroom.)
  2. Protect vulnerable populations from State-sponsored discrimination so that those groups and their allies can work toward permanent solutions to the issues impacting them.
  3. Work with voters and candidates across the state to build a lasting state government which serves ALL people, not just a privileged or extremist few.

How has the response been to your candidacy since your announcement?

It’s been both overwhelming and humbling. I’ve never experienced anything like it. And I’m pretty sure I haven’t teared up this often, or easily, since Texas won the National Championship.

You are one of 5 (as of now) declared Democrat candidates. What is your plan for winning the primary election in March?

I’ll be campaigning online and in-person, focusing on my top priorities of social justice, gender equity, income equality, public education, guaranteed nutrition, and gun safety reform.

If you win the Democratic primary, what is your plan for winning the general election?

I’ll be taking the fight right to Greg Abbott. Voters are hungering for a responsible, representative alternative to the philosophy of greed and bigotry he endorses. I will WELCOME the opportunity to meet him toe-to-toe anywhere, any time.

If you do not make it past the Democratic primary, will you still continue your campaign?

No. I’m doing this to make it harder for Greg Abbott to get re-elected, not easier. I will support the Democratic nominee.

What are the biggest issues facing Texas voters currently?

Oh goodness…where do I start?

  • Texas is hostile toward people of color, women, immigrants, the non-religious, young people, the poor, the disabled, workers, and the LBGTQ community. And while it’s one thing for this hostility to be exhibited at citizen level, it’s quite another when political leaders like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick make it their job to turn it into law.
  • Texas is a low-wage tax haven for corporations and the wealthy. It’s not sufficient to simply boast that the state has no income tax; that doesn’t help pay the rent or help families achieve financial stability. Texas needs to invest in the people who work here, so that regular folks can then invest in their own futures.  
  • Texas performs terribly compared to other states in the areas of nutrition, public health, education, and the environment. Not coincidentally, these are issues primarily within the control and responsibility of our government, which explains why they've all worsened while Republicans have controlled our government. 

How does the Texas governorship play into the national political scene?

Currently, it’s a national joke, due to the Governor’s resistance toward progress and endorsement of regressive ideas. Texas is the second largest state in the union, with a rich and diverse culture; our Governor should represent ALL of that culture, not just the 10-gallon-hat-wearing, gun-toting caricature  of it which our Governor/s so eagerly play into.

There has not been a Democrat elected governor of Texas since Ann Richards. What does the party need to do to change that?

The Party needs to focus primarily on not just reaching out to, but focusing singularly upon, the communities which are currently being targeted and/or left behind by our state government. Texas isn’t a Red state; it’s a non-voting state. And those non-voters aren’t sitting out because they are apathetic or ignorant. Those non-voters are sitting out because they don’t see either party as being a true champion of their causes. The Democratic Party needs to be just that, without any equivocation.

How big of an influence will the minority vote be in this election?

It’s everything. See the answer above. Democrats cannot afford to simply presume minorities (and I include women in that category) will align with them, simply because we’re not Republicans. I would add that young people, voters under 30, feel equally left out by the process and are likewise anxiously awaiting representation in their government.

How much influence will President Trump have on this election?

About as much as the deplorables in Texas had in his election. What I mean is, the indifference to effective government and endorsement of bigotry that got Trump elected at the national level are both long pre-existing conditions in Texas. Certain Texas voters have been instructing their elected officials to behave badly toward women, people of color, and other vulnerable groups for many years, long before Trump entered the picture. My plan is to appeal to other voters—while simultaneously promoting policies which will benefit ALL Texans.

Republicans control all statewide Texas offices, both houses of the state legislature and have a majority in the Texas congressional delegation. Do you feel this is a true representation of the political leanings of the state as a whole?

Not even close. But for gerrymandering, voter suppression, and decades of indifference/hostility toward the needs of millions of Texans, this state would already have a bi-partisan, representative government. And the instant those ignored/targeted voters feel they have a shot at real participation in their government, you’ll see that change happen.

Anything else you would like to add?

This is a chance for the people of Texas to change the conversation, to talk about the issues impacting their actual lives, rather than simply staring in wide wonder at the clown show forever on display in Austin.

Weaver will compete in the Texas Democratic Party primary election in March of 2018. You can find out more about his campaign on his Facebook or Twitter pages and at MeAgainstGregAbbott.com.

Disclosure: Lee Weaver is a former employee of Townsquare Media. The publication of this article does not constitute an endorsement of any kind.

More From 106.3 The Buzz