Texas Republican Party chairman resigns, hints at run for office

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Allen West resigned Friday morning as the chair of the Republican Party of Texas. The Republican Party said West’s resignation won’t take effect until a new chairman can be selected on July 11.

During a news conference Friday morning, West said he is contemplating a run for office, but he danced around which office.

“Maybe something congressional,” West said. Some on the far right of the Republican Party have encouraged West to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott, which West later said he would consider.

West said Friday he was disappointed Texas lawmakers did not pass the controversial voting bill this session.

“It was the No. 1 priority of the Republican Party of Texas, the No. 1 priority of the governor, it should have been something that was done,” he said.

He did praise lawmakers for passing a restrictive abortion bill and legislation that allows people to carry a handgun without a permit.

Could West challenge Gov. Abbott?

Open Texas rally held at the governor's mansion. (Republican Party of Texas: Facebook)
Open Texas rally held at the governor’s mansion. (Republican Party of Texas: Facebook)

The question everyone will want to know now is whether West will try to unseat the Republican Party’s own incumbent governor, Gov. Greg Abbott. West has been a frequent thorn in Abbott’s side since West became chair in July 2020.

Nexstar asked West directly, following his morning press conference in Whitehouse.

“Right now, this is a prayerful consideration that I need to break contact and start looking at that and seeing if that there’s a support for that actually happening,” West said.

He repeated his critique of the governor’s leadership this session.

“If I was governor and doing this legislative session, I would have made sure that the legislative priorities of the Republican Party of Texas would have been included in my State of the State address, so that the legislators being in the House in the Senate where we have a majority of Republicans, they will get to work on those things immediately,” West said.

But political scientists point out plenty of other conservative priorities did reach the finish line.

“We’ve seen very few that have matched the kind of conservative policies that this session produced in terms of abortion in terms of guns, in terms of critical race theory,” Brandon Rottinghaus with the University of Houston said Friday.

“The entry of Allen West into a race that already includes Gov. Abbott and former State Sen. Don Huffines really puts West competing with Sen. Huffines to try to pick up dissatisfied Republicans,” political expert Josh Blank with the University of Texas’ Texas Politics Project explained.

That puts Huffines and West fighting against each other for the same small margin of Republican voters who don’t approve of Abbott, according to a UT/Texas Tribune poll in April.

“The governor has the job approval of 77% of Texas Republicans,” Blank explained.

Despite Abbott earning the endorsement of former Pres. Donald Trump earlier this week, many of those people close to the former president have encouraged West to run.

Texas Monthly reports during a QAnon-affiliated event on Sunday — two days before Trump’s endorsement — former national Security Advisor Michael Flynn endorsed West for governor.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller also attended the event, according to the Texas Tribune and said Abbott won’t win re-election, and the GOP needs a primary challenger.

“Here’s what’s bothering me right now — our current governor, who did a really good job when he was first elected, cannot win reelection in the general election,” Miller said about Abbott.

He added Abbott would not get the support of the business community due to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He will not get their vote. So there’s a strong chance that Beto O’Rourke or Matthew McConaughey will be the next governor of Texas, so we’ve got to get somebody in there that can win.”

Miller and West both attended the “Open Texas Rally” on Oct. 10, 2020 outside of the governor’s mansion to protest Abbott’s executive orders as overbearing and unlawful.

West also sued Abbott in September when Abbott extended early voting by six days to help people vote safely during the pandemic. West suggested without evidence that it would invite fraud.

West has held office before but in Florida. He won a two-year term in 2010 as a U.S. Congressman representing Florida’s 22nd district in the Fort Lauderdale area. He was defeated in 2013 for re-election.

Some in Republican Party critical of Allen West

Travis County Republican Party Chair Matt Mackowiak, who successfully led a ballot initiative in Austin to reinstate the city’s camping ban, was highly critical of West Friday morning.

“It is now clear that Allen West’s entire tenure as Texas GOP chair was intended to do only what many suspected: provide him a platform for his political future, not an opportunity to build the party,” Mackowiak said.

“For seven plus months, our state chair has been unconscionably attacking our statewide officials, rallying with Alex Jones at the Governor’s mansion, attacking our new Speaker, and doing the rhetorical work of Texas Democrats,” he continued.

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