Allen West Announces Gubernatorial Bid

He will challenge Greg Abbott for the GOP nomination.

Yesterday, Allen West, the current Chairman of the Texas Republican Party, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor. The primary will be held on March 1, 2022. The sitting Republican governor, Greg Abbott, has held the office since first being elected in 2014. Here is a video announcement from West:

Having grown up in Texas, and even having taught Texas government at the collegiate level for a few years, I can attest he does a pretty good job of hitting the key tropes of Texan mythology. His attempt to deflect carpetbagger charges is pretty smart. West is from Georgia and graduated from the University of Tennessee, so he connects the story of Texas independence and early governance to key figures from those states. I would say that the producer of this announcement did a really good job of conjuring a lot of Texas symbolism. (Although West in a Stetson looks a bit corny, IMHO).

West’s announcement is just the latest example of the internal fight in many Republican primaries over exactly how trumpy the party wants to go. It is, however, an odd choice on West’s part because it isn’t as if Abbott has been some never-Trumper. Abbott’s approach to the pandemic was largely reflective of Trump’s and he is currently going full-Trump on the border. His response to the massive power problems in the winter was to say he valued Texas’ grid independence over all else, and he has adopted a similar tone during this summer’s heat (all of which is more about Texan stubbornness than trumpism, BTW).

I am having a hard time seeing West’s opening here.

Abbott has had a long career in Texas politics, including the bench (up to the Texas Supreme Court), being AG, and multiple terms as Governor. He is not invincible, but it is hard to see what the angle here is for West, save, like some of the discussion about Ohio in another post, one could argue that West’s trumpward bona fides are more genuine than Abbott’s, who has largely been a traditional Texas Republican politician for decades (and so this about which flavor of trumpism Texas GOP voters might want).

West is a peculiar case in many ways. He first came to national prominence after he was reprimanded for threatening to kill a prisoner during an interrogation back in the early years of the Iraq War (James Joyner very briefly blogged about it in 2003, and here is a 2004 NYT piece that has some of the basics: THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: INTERROGATIONS; How Colonel Risked His Career By Menacing Detainee and Lost).

James went into more details about the military incident, as well as some of West’s early behavior during his one term in the US House in a post from 2011: Allen West is an Embarrassment. The subtitle of the piece was “Freshman GOP Representative Allen West is a loose cannon and unfit for office” and James explains why in that post.

The first time I appear to have written about West was in 2012 in a brief post entitled Allen West Needs a Remedial Political Science Course or Two.

West was part of the Tea Party movement in 2010, and was a key member of the Tea Party Caucus during his one term in the House. In 2012 Sarah Palin thought West should be the GOP VP pick.

I had largely forgotten about West (whom I expected to pursue a career on cable news) until an incident on I-35 in Texas wherein a group of Trump-flagged vehicles dangerously harassed a Biden-Harris bus. This was when I found out that West had been named Chairman of the Texas Republican Party because his response to concerns about the incident (in the link) was atrociously irresponsible (James commented on them as well at the time).

Also of potential interest, the following July 2020 piece from the Texas Tribune, From the Iraq War to representing Florida in Congress to Texas GOP chair: Here’s what you need to know about Allen West. The following from that piece stuck out at me:

“There are three words I hate to hear used. I hate ‘big tent.’ I hate ‘inclusiveness.’ And I hate ‘outreach,'” West said, according to the Almanac of American Politics. “I think you stand on the principles that make you great, which transcend everybody in America, and people will come to it.”

We shall see how well West’s version of Republicanism does in the March primary.

FILED UNDER: 2022 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kathy says:

    I am having a hard time seeing West’s opening here.

    Well, West seems to be less experienced, more ignorant, and less competent than Abbott. I think that makes him far trumpier and more appealing to the Cheeto base.

  2. EddieInCA says:

    Don’t kid yourself. West has a solid shot of defeating Abbott. The interesting will be how far down the crazy hole they go.

    Will Beto jump in?
    Will Cecile Richards?

    There may be an opening for Dems if West wins the primary, which he very well might do.

    I’m getting popcorn and a front row seat. This is going to be entertaining. It’s going to be bad for Texas, and bad for the country, but it will be entertaining.



  3. Kylopod says:

    Pretty please with a lump of sugar?

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    God neither loves nor hates me that much.

  5. @EddieInCA:

    West has a solid shot of defeating Abbott.

    While my gut reaction is that he does not, I am by no means ruling it out.

    Still, upon what do you base the assertion?

  6. Scott F. says:

    The subtitle of the piece was “Freshman GOP Representative Allen West is a loose cannon and unfit for office” and James explains why in that post.

    Since James’ earlier assessment holds true, the unfitness for office makes West Trumpier than Abbott. But, only by a whisker…

    One can only hope this primary leaves them both bloodied and that then accelerates Texas’ move toward purple statehood.

  7. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Still, upon what do you base the assertion?

    1. He won the GOP Chairmain to head the State Party. This position is voted on by the reddest of the red. He won. Easily. He beat Dickey, the incumbent running for a 2nd term by 22-4, so it wasn’t close.

    2. He has kept his name ID very high by being a very Trumpy Trumper. Who else running other than Abbott has as high a name ID.

    3. Abbott, despite his tack to the right, is losing support from the base. Currently he’s sitting at 44% approve. 44% disapprove. 12% undecided. And the trend on his approval is downward while his disapproval numbers are headed higher.

    4. Texas has an open primary. Democrats can cross over to vote for West to screw Abbott.

    5. West is running on a platform of “Bringing God and Christianity back to the country”. That will garner him a non-trivial number of supporters and endorsers.

  8. @EddieInCA: Thanks for the run-down.

    I am not sure that #1 tells us all that much. Small N and very different job.

    I agree his name ID helps–on that score Abbott’s is higher.

    #3 is the real issue–Abbott has struggled at times and maybe a fresh face would be appealing, but that still isn’t that much to go on.

    #4: this is an oft-considered notion that really does not tend to work out. Coordinating and effort to strategically force the opposing party to nominate their weaker candidate is not easy (to the point of being impossible).

    #5: True–but Abbott hardly represents the opposite, now does he?

    We’ll see. I am not saying he has no chance, but I don’t think he has a clear road to the nomination.

  9. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Given what we know about the current GOP and the trend for the party, it seems that even a right wing zealot like Abbott isn’t crazy enough for the CURRENT GOP base. I believe West will out crazy Abbott, and that will give him an edge.

    Having said all that, I still think Abbott wins at the end of the day.

  10. mattbernius says:

    We have some conservative Texans who post here occasionally. I would love to hear their thoughts on this.

  11. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..Small N

    I have read Eddie’s post at 15:54 backwards and forwards. Especially point #1.
    I have read your reply.

    I am loathe to reveal my ignorance when it comes to abbreviations and acronyms. But I have to ask.
    What is small N?

  12. CSK says:

    Oh, Abbott is a liberal RINO. Didn’t you know?

  13. Franklin says:

    @Mister Bluster: I believe it’s just the small (N)umber of voters. Please correct me if wrong.

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    @Franklin:..small (N)umber of voters.

    I’ll go with that unless I hear something else from Dr. Taylor.

  15. Michael Cain says:

    I will be fascinated to see how a competition over “The gas and electric companies weren’t allowed to let enough customers freeze to death, or have to pay staggering thousands-of-dollars utility bills to avoid that privilege” plays out.

    If I lived in Texas, I might be tempted to try for the nomination on the single policy plank of “The afternoon of the day I’m inaugurated the Texas Rangers will start arresting the C-suite and boards of directors people at the gas and electric companies. Public hangings will begin the following day at noon.”

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Going back to my HS mathematics n (small n, italicized) was the unknown in many equations. I was assuming the same here.

  17. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I’ve worked for and with many a great Army Officer–Allen West is like none of them. Not even a POS–he’s the whole pile.

    He’s example #1 of my grandfathers saying: “All my skin-folks aint my kinfolks…”

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    I’m having a difficult time figuring out how a state party chairman, whose existence is to coordinate with R office holders (and none is higher than The Gov) can run himself and not lose that position…UNLESS this is with the blessing of the Gov himself. Not without some major split or big trouble involving an incumbent Gov, and none has been apparent, could West get away with a pot shot at The King.

    West is a “team player”, so this smells like a split-the-nutball primary vote gambit. Or the putting-in-place for a possible need for one. If a serious contender does not emerge, no damage done. The tell will be West failing to throw much effort into his campaign and/or keeping his job.

  19. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Capital N in this context is population size. Lower case n would be sample size.

  20. Michael Cain says:

    @Mikey: You can always tell which math someone spent their formative years with. For me, maximize a function of n variables subject to m constraints…

  21. de stijl says:

    Within red states, the most obnoxious viable person wins most often.

  22. de stijl says:

    I love it when Rs battle royale for an easy seat they should get all things being equal. I enjoy dischordance amongst the opposition.

    In The Gunslinger series Stephen King lays O! Discordia! squarely on the agents of evil.