AUSTIN – Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West officially announced Sunday that he will challenge incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in next year’s GOP primary.
West, a former Florida Congressman and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, told other parishioners at Sojourn Church in Carrollton that he is running to bring the country back to its Christian roots.
“I haven’t held elected political office in about a decade, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and see what is going on in this United States of America … in what I call home,” he said.
West joins two other North Texans, former Dallas State Senator Don Huffines and Blaze TV host Chad Prather, in announcing offers to prevent Abbott from winning a third four-year term as governor in 2022. Abbott is the overwhelming early favorite as demonstrated by a new one Dallas Morning News– The University of Texas at Tyler poll was released on Sunday. It showed the incumbent ahead of Huffines among the GOP primary voters, 77% -12%. West’s name recognition and popularity were not measured.
West warned of threats to religious freedom in a lengthy speech that included a recitation of the Declaration of Independence and a video showing his appreciation for Texas history.
Some want to ban religion from the public, he said. Former President Thomas Jefferson’s concept of church and state separation is skewed, he said.
“We have a new religion that is being put forward, the religion of same-sex marriage,” he said, condemning the punishment of a Colorado baker who refused to sell wedding cakes to a same-sex couple years ago.
“Are you ready … to question the status quo to protect your freedom?” West said. Great heroes were ready to defy authority in their day, he said. He quoted the leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, the Catholic Saint Sir Thomas More, and the English philosopher John Locke.
He was born in Georgia and attended college in Tennessee, West in the video announcing his candidacy for governor checked off the names of previous Texas heroes hailing from these two states. West, who is Black, reminded the audience that on July 4, 1867, Black Texans formed the Texas Republican Party. West also invoked a tradition of service modeled by his late parents, both of whom were buried in a Georgia military cemetery.
Citing his parents and his belief in God, West said that they âasked you to come back to serve for God, the country, and Texas for a time like this. That is why I am running for your governor. “
The worshipers jumped up and applauded. When the video ended, West returned to the stage and the Church pastors Chris McRae and Terry Moore prayed for him and his family.
Regarding problems, West promised in the video to secure the US-Mexico border “to make sure Texas is for Texans”.
He also pledged to oppose the Green New Deal and protect the Texas petrochemical industry from possible harm by the federal government.
âThat means we’re staying energy independent and fueling America,â he said.
West also said, “We cannot live in a No. 1 state for human trafficking.”
In early June, West announced his resignation as state GOP chairman, effective July 11, and confirmed to WBAP Radio that he was considering bidding for governor. At the time, however, West did not rule out challenging US Democratic MP Colin Allred of Dallas.
West has a strong tea party following, but it lacks a key perk for a nationwide race: support from Donald Trump. On June 1, former President Abbott gave his “full and complete support,” although West insisted that this would not prevent him from running against Abbott or anyone else.
“I am not serving President Trump,” West told reporters on June 4 in East Texas. “I serve God, the country, and Texas, so it doesn’t affect me at all.”
As an indication of where West fits on the ideological spectrum, he spoke at a QAnon-affiliated conference in Dallas in late May where Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for short, caused a stir by saying a military coup that happened recently in Myanmar could happen in the United States and “it should happen here”.
West distanced himself from this feeling.
But at the beginning of his tenure as the state’s GOP chairman, West invoked the phrase âWe are the storm,â a slogan often used by followers of the far-right QAnon cult, which says that a cabal of satanic cannibalist pedophiles is running the government controlled, and that Trump was the champion in the fight against that cabal.
West denied any connection with the conspiracy theory and insisted on borrowing it from a favorite poem: “The devil whispers in the warrior’s ear: ‘You cannot withstand the coming storm.’ The warrior whispers back: ‘I am the storm.’ “
West, 60, deposed James Dickey as the state’s GOP chairman in July 2020.
Since then, he has openly criticized Abbott, particularly its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and criticized the governor for imposing mask requirements and restrictions on companies to contain the outbreak that has now claimed more than 50,000 lives in Texas.
He’s also Dispute with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, accused him last fall of undermining efforts to extend the right to carry small arms. This led Patrick to accuse âoutside agitatorsâ of having spread âan avalanche of misinformation and simple liesâ – a remarkable brawl between a state party leader and one of the most powerful officials in his party.
West was elected to Congress in 2010 amid the tea party wave that arose in response to the 2008 election of former President Barack Obama, but lost his re-election bid to a Democrat who labeled him a far-right and less than a quarter the term of office issued West spent $ 17 million to defend his seat.
As one of two Black House Republicans at the time, West called Obama a “low-level socialist agitator” and called Obama supporters “a threat to the gene pool.” He also claimed that up to 81 Democrats in the House of Representatives were members of the Communist Party, but never presented evidence or named names.
During a short-lived investigation into a candidacy for Congress in Dallas in 2019, the Democratic Congress campaign committee called him a “certified madman” and found that he had named Social Security.21st century slaveryâClaimed he had one higher security clearance than the president, and had used his time in Congress to argue that Terrorism is part of Islam, and that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology. “
In 2015, West was hired as chief executive officer of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, a free market think tank credited with hatching advances in GOP policies such as Health Savings Accounts and Roth IRAs.
In less than two years, the non-profit organization was broke. A chief financial officer hired during West’s tenure embezzled more than $ 600,000 and the board accused West of mismanagement.
West spent 22 years in the Army, 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 Commendation Medals and a Valorous Unit Award.