Texas Rep. Pat Fallon, former Notre Dame football player, says future of GOP is being more likable, accessible
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Rep. Pat Fallon, a former Notre Dame football player with a big personality, says the future of the Republican Party will be more accessible, likable and inspirational.
The Texas Republican who openly considered primary-challenging Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in 2020 says lawmakers who can't personally connect with voters or fire up a crowd will have trouble in the long run.
"I just tend to think that moving forward our future is going to be far more populous and far more accessible," Fallon said in a recent interview during congressional orientation while declining to name certain GOP politicians falling short.
"I think we're going to be dead as a party if we don't do those things."
Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, is the new 4th Congressional District representative. He succeeds former Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas. (Photo courtesy of Pat Fallon campaign)
Fallon, a 52-year-old entrepreneur and a former Texas state lawmaker, said the new group of bold House freshmen is a testament to a change on the horizon for the GOP. Fallon was sworn into Congress on Sunday with the most diverse class of GOP lawmakers yet who won hard-fought races across the country, leaning into their personal stories of defying the odds and standing up for American freedoms.
"It's about having better messengers – and a better message too – and being likable," Fallon, a husband and father of two, said. "I think the greatest virtue in politics and certainly the most underrated one is likability."
Fallon said he thrives on retail politicking and talking to voters. He got to the Texas state Senate through a 2018 primary challenge to a longtime incumbent, Craig Estes. Fallon accused the Republican of failing to hold town halls and working for the constituents. He beat the sitting senator in a big upset win during the primary (62% to 23%).
Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, is a former state representative and state senator.
(Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
Fallon is a storyteller by nature. During an hourlong interview with Fox News, Fallon broke into no fewer than 10 impressions when recalling his journey from Notre Dame football to the halls of Congress. He altered his voice imitating his mother offering him advice, scary Democratic attack ad commercials and even his former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz.
Fallon was a member of the famed 1988 Fighting Irish national football team. Fallon says his role on the team was very minor, although he talks fondly of the lifelong bonds he made with his "brothers." In his Holtz impression, Fallon said the coach knew Notre Dame was going to win if he put Fallon in the game: "Of course, I wouldn't put his ass in unless we were up by 30 [points]."
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After football, Fallon found new physical challenges. In 2015, he completed the World Marathon Challenge where he ran seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents.
Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, with his former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. (Photo courtesy of Pat Fallon campaign)
Fallon also dove headfirst into culture wars as a politician. In the Texas State House, he co-sponsored the "Merry Christmas" law that said public schools can't censor the use of "Merry Christmas" or stop children from celebrating the holiday and wearing red or green.
He caught heat in 2017 for opposing the city of Dallas' decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, blasting "cancel culture cowards." He followed up by introducing legislation in the state Senate aimed at "protecting our history" and preserve certain monuments and memorials.
Similar Fallon-backed legislation passed the Texas Senate to make it harder to remove monuments, but it did not become law. Lone Star State Democrats slammed the effort as a disgraceful attempt to protect Confederate monuments and to disregard the "pain and heartache" of Black Americans.
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Lately, Fallon's taking aim at the Black Lives Matter movement and argues the left has exploited the death of George Floyd, who died May 25, 2020, while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Fallon says "all Black lives matter," including the life of David Dorn, a retired police captain who was killed while protecting a St. Louis pawn shop from looters during the Floyd protests on June 2. Both deaths were tragedies, but the left only wants to rally around one because it fits their anti-police narrative, he said.
"There's murals of George Floyd," Fallon said. "There are no murals of David Dorn. … If they were both alive today who would you want to babysit your child?"
Fallon rejects the notion that he has to sit out these conversations by nature of his skin color.
"I also realize that coming from a perspective of a conservative, White middle-aged man, there's a lot of people out there that say your opinion doesn't have as much weight as mine," Fallon said. "The Squad is really great at that. ‘I'm a woman of color.’ Yeah, we're human beings. We should have equal weight. That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. talked about."
In one of his first votes in Congress, Fallon joined all Republicans in voting against the new Democratic rules that strip all gender references from the text in an effort to be more inclusive to people who don't identify as either male or female.
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Fallon is the new representative for Texas's 4th Congressional District, a mostly rural and very red region of northeast Texas.
He avoided a traditional primary election because local GOP officials were tasked in August with picking who would replace John Ratcliffe on the ballot after President Trump tapped him to be director of National Intelligence. Fallon then easily won in November over his Democratic challenger with 75% of the vote.
Fallon is a former Texas state representative and senator who turned his college side hustle of selling T-shirts into his livelihood.
Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, was a member of the 1988 national champion Notre Dame football team. (Photo courtesy of Pat Fallon campaign.)
During his days at the University of Notre Dame, Fallon started a T-shirt business to make extra money on campus. One week he recalled pulling in $2,000 in pure profit. "It was beer money for the most part," Fallon quips, then adding with a smile: "I should say spending money."
He said he had a knack for coming up with catchy designs and recruiting others to sell his shirts by offering triple the money than the competition.
"I don't think AOC and the other left-wingers had a business in college. They might not be so left-wing," Fallon said. "I had to come up with capital, and then I had to buy the shirts and then I had to design the shirts and then I had to find a market for the shirts."
After college, Fallon took those entrepreneurial skills with him to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. He said he made $18,500 base pay a year as a second lieutenant and struggled to get by. He started designing and selling shirts to various Air Force units and eventually made more money outside the military as an entrepreneur than inside the Air Force, he said.
Fallon served four years in the Air Force. Around that time, he connected with Rudy Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football player and inspiration for the classic movie "Rudy." Ruettiger was out on the speaking circuit and needed "tchotchkes" to sell at his table where he greets fans after events. Fallon pitched activewear with a "Never Quit" theme and eventually became his business manager from 1994 to 1996, he said.
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Fallon ultimately launched a military and patriotic-themed clothing company called Virtus Apparel and branched out with businesses called Recon Sportswear and T-shirts Guys. Fallon said he's since stepped away from the day-to-day operations. Federal financial disclosure forms show Fallon listed assets worth between $11 million and $36 million from his business ventures and investments.
He said his clothing businesses received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the coronavirus pandemic that prevented layoffs of any employees.
Fallon preaches traditional conservative values of limited government, repealing and replacing Obamacare, securing the border, fighting illegal immigration, low taxes, personal responsibility and promoting American exceptionalism. He said his district is very patriotic and for the most part "they just want to be left alone."
"They're really worried, as am I, that our best days may be behind us depending on what we do here before," Fallon said. "And they sent me here to fight for the values that made us the greatest country history has ever known."
His priority in office is customer service and ensuring when constituents need help with navigating the federal government his office resolves their issue.
"Our goal is to be the most accessible and responsive member of Congress out of all 435 [members]," Fallon said.
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