West’s Final Days as Texas GOP Chair

Not surprisingly, it has been a bit contentious.

Here’s a follow-up to my post from the weekend about Allen West, the exiting Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas via the Texas Tribune: Allen West’s final days as state GOP chair filled with intraparty drama.

Allen West’s final days as Texas GOP chairman are ending with an explosion of the kind of intraparty drama he has become known for throughout his tenure.

On Wednesday, long-simmering tensions between West and the party’s vice chair, Cat Parks, boiled over as he called her a “cancer” and “delusional and apparently deranged” amid a dispute over a party committee project. Parks is a cancer survivor.

A day earlier, a group of county party chairs called for West’s immediate removal as state party leader, alleging an “outrageous conflict of interest” given that he is now running for governor. West announced last month that he was stepping down as Texas GOP chair, but it is not effective until Sunday, when the State Republican Executive Committee is set to elect his successor.

There are some details of the back-and-forth between West and Parks (and others) over a legislative scorecard that I will not attempt to excerpt here. I would note that West’s rhetoric (such as calling Parks a cancer) is reflective of past examples of his behavior.

The following does a good job of detailing the general situation:

West has held the job for just under a year, and it has been a run filled with regular bouts of intraparty drama. He has been a leading GOP critic of Gov. Greg Abbott’s coronavirus response, even protesting outside the Governor’s Mansion last fall. He called House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, a “political traitor” for courting Democrats in his bid for the gavel late last year. And during the regular legislative session earlier this year, he sharply questioned Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s commitment to a long-sought bill allowing permitless carry of handguns, which ultimately became law.

Inside the state Republican Party, though, daylight has long been building between West and Parks. It was relatively subtle at first, like when West suggested in December that “law-abiding states” should secede over the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of a Texas-led lawsuit challenging President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. The next day, Parks delivered remarks that pushed back without naming West.

But the rivalry eventually became more overt, with Parks leading the charge in March to remove the party’s account from Gab, an alternative social media site popular with neo-Nazis and other extremists. West opposed deleting the account, and after the SREC sided with Parks, he created his own personal account on the site.

While it is possible that West is navigating a pathway to transforming the Texas GOP, starting out a gubernatorial run by creating conflict within the party establishment is likely not a good strategy.

On Twitter, former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, called West’s email to Parks “nothing but a tirade of misogyny & disrespect by a man pitifully floundering to be right when he is so blatantly wrong.”

It is not the only controversy that West is facing in his final days as Texas GOP leader. A group of county party chairs is objecting to West still serving as state party leader while running for governor, and in a letter Tuesday, they asked the SREC to immediately remove him.

I suppose the first visible test is who replaces him as Chair:

The SREC is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Sunday in Lewisville to elect the next chair. Candidates include David Covey, president of the Texas Republican County Chairmen’s Association; Matt Rinaldi, a former state representative from Irving; and Chad Wilbanks, a former executive director of the state party. Rinaldi has been an ally of West, while Wilbanks has been a critic.

At a minimum, it will be interesting to see to what the scale this intraparty fight grows. I continue to be skeptical that West is going to be able to capture the nomination, given that his influence in the state and in the party is limited (and based on a very short timeline of being active in the party). While he does bring the kind of disruptive Trump-like energy to the scene, which will appeal to some primary voters, he remains a one-term member of Congress (from another state) with less than a year working within formal state Republican politics. Taking down the sitting governor is hard enough and starting off one’s campaign by angering a number of actors in the state party apparatus is not the best of starts.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2022, 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

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    But as a candidate he can collect donations and keep the grift going. You have to give Trumpism credit for extending opportunity to the intellectually and morally disabled.

    5
  2. Joe says:

    I don’t spend a lot of calories on internal Republican politics, but I find it continuously exhausting to read about party pols – these days, pretty exclusively Republicans – who attack their party peers for even talking to the other side. How does anyone govern under those conditions?

    3
  3. CSK says:

    @Joe:
    I assume that’s a rhetorical question, but…you don’t.

    4
  4. @gVOR08: He can definitely grift away.

    The question becomes: can he really compete for the nomination?

  5. Kathy says:

    @Joe:

    How does anyone govern under those conditions?

    Before having the conditions conducive to governance, one must want to govern.

    Given recent history and developments we all saw, the GOP seems more interested in repression. You can do that fine without talking to the other party.

    2
  6. JohnMcC says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: When he loses it will be proof that he was bravely speaking the truth and needs your help more than ever!

  7. Raoul says:

    If Allen West were to be elected for governor no doubt he would run the Office the same way he runs his current position. Here is a thought exercise for those who do not realize how far right the Republican Party is. Imagine for a second if the Democratic Party was run by a cabal of narcissistic borderline illiterate socialists and communists.

    1
  8. Beth says:

    After reading an article about right wing capture of county government in OR, I suspect Mr. West is closer to the nomination than we expect under more normal circumstances. This is very depressing. I can’t link the article, but there is a post about it on LGM.

    5
  9. senyordave says:

    @Raoul: Imagine for a second if the Democratic Party was run by a cabal of narcissistic borderline illiterate socialists and communists.
    I assume may republicans think that the above is a statement of fact.

    3
  10. de stijl says:

    I do enjoy it when Rs have purity battles in red/reddish states. Actually, Texas is now semi-purple. Trending blue. We are witnessing a party shift in suburban white collar folks.

    Please continue on Texas Rs. Please pursue inter-party petty conflicts and divisions.

    2
  11. de stijl says:

    Between West and Flynn, the US Army needs to re-evaluate senior officer promotion criteria. Some rando “patriot” one-star in US Spec Forces command was a fucking anti-Muslim lunatic. Cannot remember his name.

    Dangerously megalomanic and anti-democratic as traits is an unproductive trait and potentially dangerous. I would prefer zero attempted coups in my lifetime.

    Careful, measured consideration.

    1
  12. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    As a member of the original Star Wars generation, the last 10-12 years of Republican party antics have reminded me of that mythologies belief that evil will always turn on itself. The only thing most of the remaining “leaders” of the Republican party have in common is an almost messianic belief in their own superiority, which makes it hard to play with others.

    And while we may joke about grabbing some popcorn to watch them fight, the collateral damage is all too depressingly real and impacting so many bystanders it’s simultaneously maddening and disheartening.

    6
  13. Scott F. says:

    @de stijl:
    This may be an overly optimistic take, but I see the most viable national recovery from the current political dysfunction running through Texas. It would go like this:

    Texas Republicans, emboldened by typical Lone Star State braggadocio, push their purist-GOP agenda too far and hasten the loss of the suburban white collar voter. Republican incompetence at governance (e.g. the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) reinforces their problems. Concurrently, demographic trends continue to move state into purple territory. In a cycle or two, Texas moves to the blue column in national elections.

    Texas’ Electoral College votes being up for grabs changes the calculus and EC reform becomes existential for the GOP. A more majoritarian solution is made possible by the Democrats now having the advantage.

    No longer able to win power nationally solely by appealing to their base, the Republicans start to moderate their positions in an effort to win back more of center.

    Now, I don’t think this scenario is all that likely, but it’s the only path forward I’ve been able to come up with where the structural incentives are driving the action. (All other scenarios require a critical mass of politicians acting with new found integrity and that just ain’t gonna happen.) It’s starts with intra-party conflict and the Trumpists overplaying their hand.

    3
  14. EddieInCA says:

    I took one for the team today.

    I listened to two plus hours of Dan Bongino’s show in Rush’s old time slot locally here in Los Angeles.

    For the sake of your mental health, don’t do what I did.

    In two hours, there probably wasn’t three minutes of actual truth.

    Some of the gems:

    “Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon shouldn’t be considered private companies, as they’re basically doing the government’s bidding. Was it a coincidence that Amazon dropped cloud services and web hosting for my website Parler after AOC and Ro Khanna, two far leftist socialists (sic) complained about it. They’re censoring people like President Trump, and I’m so glad he brought this lawsuit.”

    “Leftists are against the 1st Amendment. They hate this country and all it stands for.”

    “The Democrats in congress literally want you dead because of your belief in freedom”.

    “We’ve never had such a brave and courageous President as President Trump”.

    I haven’t listened to terrestrial AM radio in a long time. I live on Pandora, SirriusXM, and an app called “Radio Garden” that allows me to listen free to stations around the world. I’ve been listening to alot of French Jazz lately. But I digress….

    If anyone wants to understand how Trump got 74 million votes, keep in mind that most people in the country still listen to AM radio, and it’s dominated by the right wing. After two hours of listening, I wanted to kill every liberal with whom I came in contact. The message being sent out by Trump’s acolytes is visceral, predatory, and primal. It’s all emotion, and it’s effective.

    Bad times are a comin’.

    6
  15. de stijl says:

    @Scott F.:

    The loss of Texas from reliably R to semi D would change dynamics intensely and dramatically.

    Within our reach. Hatch onto ERCOT and R fuck-ups. Mash on responsibility to fellow Texans and common decency. It is doable.

    Texas EC votes are huge. A game changer.

    Within Your Reach by early The Replacements

    2
  16. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Thanks! But, man, that is hard duty. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

    I am a firm believer in you do not have to suffer first person source trauma. Rely on second hand sources if available.

    The fetish towards contemporaneous first hand sourcing is misguided irt individuals witnessing bullshit firsthand. We have other fires to put out now.

    Do not get me wrong. I want future historians to watch and see our now. But do not ask me to do so. I have x amount of psychic wherewithal per day. It depletes by bullshit encountered. The more BS the more rapidly my capacity diminishes. Performative bullshit depletes it 2x.

    2
  17. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Damn, Eddie, you really did take one for the team. You’re a brave man.

    @de stijl:
    As I’ve sometimes said, “I read Lucianne.com so you don’t have to.” But Eddie’s gutsier than I am.

    4
  18. Kathy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    For the sake of your mental health, don’t do what I did.

    Noted.

    For the sake of your mental health, don’t do it again.

    Dr. Jill Lepore’s last season of her podcast, The Last Archive, had an episode on the unlamented Limbaugh (she had her reasons), and there were some clips of his show. That’s one podcast ep. I’m never listening to again.

    3
  19. EddieinCA says:

    @CSK: @de stijl: @de stijl:

    If you can imagine the comments section at Lucianne.com for three hours, then you have a good idea about Dan Bongino’s show. But, unlike Rush, who could dress his misogyny, racism, and authoritarianism with comedy, Bongino just comes across as just another angry white dude. BUT…. he has millions of listeners due to Rush’s long time in that slot. And those millions vote.

    1
  20. de stijl says:

    @EddieinCA:

    Correct me if I am wrong but Bongino presents as mixed race. Am I wrong?

    That deep dive was impressive. You know what you face as opposition. A bracing reminder.

    This is what we need to counter.

  21. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Bongino claims to be half-Italian, and certainly his surname appears to be such.

    1
  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Raoul:

    Imagine for a second if the Democratic Party was run by a cabal of narcissistic borderline illiterate socialists and communists.

    You just described what JKB and others currently believe is reality about the Democratic Party.

    1
  23. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: I’ve been puzzled by this for a while, and I’m not alone. Every time I saw a picture of him, I assumed he was a black dude–maybe relatively light-skinned, maybe mixed race, but at minimum at least one black parent. But whenever he’s been asked about this, he claims to be Italian and denies being black. I suspect he’s either hiding something or comes from a family that covered it up and he hasn’t come to terms with it yet.

    It’s kind of like a milder version of that story a couple years back about the white nationalist who took a DNA test and was horrified when it reported he had like 15% black ancestry.

    Of course Fox has no problem with its occasional token Negro, but that doesn’t mean certain individuals might want to pass as something else.

    2
  24. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    As far as I can tell, Bongino’s never revealed what the other half is.

    2
  25. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: Yes, but he specifically denied being black.

  26. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    I know. Which is why it’s interesting that he keeps the other half of his heritage under wraps. His Wikipedia entry doesn’t provide his parents’ names, and usually they do.

    2
  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: He could be 100% swarthy Mediterranean. My grandfather was that dark skinned, and he was from Tuscany.

    (I don’t believe Bongino, but don’t really care either. In this case, “the content of his character” is the more important thing anyway.)

    3
  28. de stijl says:

    @CSK:
    @Kylopod:

    His business. Not mine. I know that much. I withdraw my “presents as” wording which assumed too much too freely. I apologize. I stepped too hard there. His parentage is his business.

    I know jack shit about him beyond knowing I dislike his assumptions and conclusions.

    I am super impressed at Eddie’s deep dive. I lack the fortitude. I would bail a half hour in, guaranteed. I just could not. I cannot disassociate at will.

    I need secondary sources on RW nuttery. Cannot abide first hand interaction. Makes me ill.

    1
  29. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    He could be 100% swarthy Mediterranean.

    Doubtful. For one thing, he isn’t even all that swarthy; it’s not his coloring that caught my attention, it’s his facial features (and I assume that’s what other people noticed as well).

    I don’t believe Bongino, but don’t really care either.

    No problem. I just happen to take interest in the way people try to hide ancestries of theirs–particularly right-wingers, but I’ve seen examples of it across the board.

    1
  30. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    You are line-stepping.

    Not our business. His and his alone. I am sorry and apologize for my earlier bullshit. Uncalled for nonsense unnecessary and potentially hurtful speculation. It was wrong on my part.

  31. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @EddieInCA: Which goes to show that the DNC and its funders have effectively seded ground to the RNC and its funders–but then cry shocked that Republicans dominate State legislatures and middle America.

    The whole notion that the DNC is trying to protect Democracy is pure theater. Sure, their supporters want and support this—but the people that know better understand that you can’t give away bandwidth in the Information space. AM Radio was clearly part of the Republican strategy and the lack of an counter is not an oversight by Democrats–its deliberate. They aren’t interested in challenging Rural voter assumptions about Democrats and Republicans any more than Republicans are interested in challenging City voters about their assumptions.

    I listened to a podcast about how Communism spread in China a few days ago. Oddly enough–despite being designed by urban elites–it failed in the city–but found a devoted following in rural areas with people willing to shoot it out. Sound familiar?

    So while Liberals are enjoying their cultured spaces and figuring out latest micro-agressions and proper pronouns–the equivalent of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines is going on right under their nose. Eventually, the United States will become too small for the them, the real Americans, and the Libs. Someone will have to go. Of course, there is still time to act–but proactivity has ceased to be an amercian value (see Condo–Sunrise, FL).

    2
  32. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    What would have us do, then?

  33. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @de stijl: Nothing for us–but the sugar daddies and PACs that fund Democrat politicians and talking heads need to take a page of out the book of the Koch’s, etc and procure the equivalent of Sinclair Broadcast and contest the AM airwaves—even if it comes from a Lincoln Group type angle— “Republicans” attacking Trumpublicans. This target audience has already proven susceptible to propaganda–so the right crafted narrative would drive a wedge between these two factions.

    For a longer term (3-5 year) operation–you then begin shaping your Lincoln Group target audience to the Joe Manchin brand of Democrat politics–with astroturfed candidates and inserted to confound primary elections. Once your established that a fish will hit an artificial lure–the question is then not of whether the artificial will work– but what style and what presentation is best for the conditions.

    This isn’t secret sauce–the fact that its not happening is evidence that the status quo, for those that could act, is fine. You think Bloomberg couldn’t throat punch the Koch’s in AM radio if he wanted?

    2