Update at 11:30 a.m. with additional comments.
Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West resigned Friday after less than 11 months on the job and confirmed speculation he could challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the primary.
West, a former Florida congressman with a tenure and retired Army Lt. Col., told WBAP radio that he was prayerfully considering running for governor, and later said to journalists that he may also decide to run for another post or serve in another way.
He has many supporters for tea, but he lacks one important asset for a statewide race: the support of Donald Trump. The former president gave Abbott his “full and utter approval” on Tuesday.
West is reportedly joining a growing number of Republicans in hopes of defeating Abbott in the primary next spring. The governor professed a lack of concern and said he was not yet focused on his re-election efforts.
“I will get into politics when the time comes,” he said. The morning news from Dallas earlier this week.
As an indication of West’s place on the ideological spectrum, he spoke last weekend in Dallas at a QAnon-affiliated conference in which Michael Flynn, briefly Trump’s national security adviser, provoked an outcry by claiming a military coup of the type that took place recently. in Myanmar could happen in the United States and “it should happen here”.
West distanced himself from that feeling.
But early in his tenure as state GOP chairman, West invoked the phrase “We are the storm,” a motto commonly used by followers of the far-right QAnon cult, which argues that a cabal of satanic and cannibalistic pedophiles controls the government, and that Trump was the champion fighting this cabal.
West denied any connection to the conspiracy theory, insisting he borrowed it from a favorite poem: “The devil whispers in the warrior’s ear ‘you can’t weather the coming storm.’ The warrior whispers back “I am the storm. “
“I don’t know anyone else and I’m not into internet conspiracy theories,” West said. Austin KXAN-TV Station in August after The New York Times cited his use of the phrase as evidence of a “flirtation” with QAnon.
It was just weeks after West defeated former state GOP chairman James Dickey in July. Texas Democrats called him a “certified hard-line racist conservative.”
Like most state party presidents, Dickey used his perch to promote the party’s broader interests and candidates and defend its incumbents.
West broke that mold.
He has deeply and openly criticized Abbott, particularly his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, criticizing the governor for imposing mask warrants and restrictions on businesses to curb the epidemic which has now claimed more than 50,000 lives in Texas.
It is also fought with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, accusing him last fall of undermining efforts to expand the right to carry handguns. This prompted Patrick to accuse “outside agitators” of spreading “an avalanche of disinformation and outright lies” – a remarkable brawl between a state president and one of his party’s most powerful officials.
The GOP primary already includes former State Senator Donald Huffines of Dallas. He slammed the governor for leaving Republican red meat issues on the table, including the “electoral integrity” bill blocked by a dramatic walkout by Democratic lawmakers who see it as an effort to suppress minority voters .
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is considering a race and could announce his campaign in the coming days.
Abbott played down any concerns about his survival next year, when asked about West, Huffines, Miller and movie star Matthew McConaughey, who said he gave “real consideration” to a race next year.
“I’m not at the point yet where I’m even focusing on politics, there is going to be plenty of time for me to do that,” the governor said. The news Tuesday, adding that he will not focus on his re-election until June 20, the deadline for him to consider and veto bills approved by the legislative session that ended on Monday.
Dave Carney, Abbott’s chief political adviser, said The news the governor was in a strong position to be re-elected.
The legislature produced strong, conservative legislation while strengthening the state’s electricity grid, he said, adding, “We had a lot of articles appealing to Republicans and independents. We are in great shape.
West’s resignation takes effect on July 11, when the State party chooses a replacement.
“It has been an honor for me to serve as chairman of the Texas Republican Party. I pray to Godspeed for this governing body, ”he said in a declaration.
He was elected to Congress in 2010 amid the Tea Party wave that emerged in response to Barack Obama’s election in 2008, but lost his candidacy for re-election to a Democrat who qualified him right-wing extremist and spent less than a quarter of $ 17 million West spent defending his seat.
One of the two Republicans in the Black House at the time, he called Obama a “low-level socialist agitator” and called Obama supporters a “threat to genetic heritage”. He also claimed that up to 81 House Democrats were members of the Communist Party, but never offered evidence or named names.
During a short-lived exploration of a congressional candidacy in Dallas in 2019, the Congressional Democratic campaign committee called him a “certified lunatic,” noting that he called Social Security “21st century slavery, claimed he had a higher security clearance than the president, and had used his time in Congress to argue that terrorism is inherent in Islam, and that Islam “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology. “
In 2015, West was hired as managing director of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, a free market think tank credited with spawning policy advancements such as health savings accounts and the Roth IRAs.
In less than two years, the association went bankrupt. A CFO hired during West’s tenure embezzled more than $ 600,000, and the board ended up accusing West of mismanagement.
West spent 22 years in the military, serving in combat during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as a battalion commander in the 4th Infantry Division, and later in Afghanistan. His honors include a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Medals of Honor, and a Valorous Unit Award.
“Maybe even something from Congress”
West was careful not to pull the curtain too far on the plans he would show up for at a press conference in Tyler on Friday.
“I don’t know, maybe catch a dog,” West said. When asked if all the state offices were on the table, he replied, “Why not? Before taking a hit at the US Democratic Representative from Dallas, Colin Allred.
“Maybe even something from Congress because I live in Texas 32 and there’s a guy in Texas 32 that I really don’t care about being my representative in Congress,” West said. Allred currently occupies that seat in Congress.
Although he did not give further details, West said that after the 2020 election and the legislative session, a “window of opportunity” presented itself.
“I don’t want to have a conflict of interest, focus on that (GOP chairman) and not be able to fully give myself 110% to the Texas Republican Party,” West said. “So I’d rather be able to get away from that and focus and make sure I can continue serving, maybe in a different way.”
He also noted that running against candidates who have already been approved by Trump will not play a role in the position he is targeting.
“I don’t serve President Trump,” West said. “I serve God, the country and Texas so it doesn’t affect me in any way.”
President Trump sent me this note today.
“Greg – YOU WILL WIN BIG BIG!” “
Great to have the president behind me 100%.
We are both determined to keep Texas RED and will continue to fight for the values that make Texas the # 1 state in America. pic.twitter.com/zwO19b8epR
– Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 2, 2021
West applauded the Texas legislature for passing the bill banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, as well as legislation on unlicensed carriage. But he expressed disappointment at the failure to pass the controversial elections bill that died at the 11th hour, a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying and the blockade of gender-affirming care for young people. transgender under 18.
“We did something about the abortion issue with the heartbeat bill,” West said. “We got a constitutional postponement. We are still waiting for the integrity of the elections, but everything seems to fall apart. We are not satisfied with this performance.
Editor-in-chief Alex Briseño contributed to this report.