Texas GOP Chair Allen West teases a run for statewide office, likely spurring Abbott further right

click to enlarge Firebrand former congressman Allen West has resigned as head of the Texas GOP. - Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Firebrand former congressman Allen West has resigned as head of the Texas GOP.
If you thought Texas' recently completed legislative session was an exercise in far-right dick swinging, just wait until the 2022 campaign season gets underway in earnest.

Firebrand Texas GOP Chair Allen West announced his resignation at a Friday press conference in the East Texas town of Whitehouse, teasing a possible run for statewide office, the Texas Tribune reports.

A one-term Florida congressman and Trump loyalist, West has emerged as a thorn the side of fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. Since taking the helm of the state party, West sued Abbott for expanding early voting during the pandemic, and he led a protest calling out the governor for being too slow to reopen the state, even as COVID deaths continued to spike.

Political observers have speculated for months that West was contemplating a primary challenge to Abbott, although he declined to say at the presser whether that's the seat he'll aim for, the Tribune reports.

A statewide run is "one of the things that I have to go to the Lord in prayer," West explained.

Despite the Republican-controlled Legislature pushing for — and largely delivering on — an agenda that hurled red meat to the party's base during this year's session, West insisted during his presser that lawmakers didn't go far enough.

While West praised the session's almost complete ban on abortions and new open carry rule, he said other conservative priorities "just fell apart," according to the Tribune.

"We're not pleased with that performance," added West, who retired as a U.S. Army officer in 2004 after nearly facing a court martial over a harsh interrogation of an Iraqi prisoner.

Political observers note that Abbott's increasingly partisan rhetoric, including his recent threat to withhold paychecks from Texas Lege, has been fueled by his fear of a primary challenge from the Trump wing of the party.

Abbott already faces that in the form of Don Huffines, a former state senator who's called him out as Republican in Name Only — or RINO, in AM talk radio vernacular. It's a safe bet that a bid from West would only push the governor further to the right as he looks to shore up support from the fringe.

Stay tuned. The reddest of red meat may be yet to come.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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