On July 4, 2021, former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West announced his decision to run for Governor. West will now be sitting Governor Greg Abbott’s most high profile challenger.
According to the Texas Tribune, West made this announcement during an appearance at Sojourn Church in Carrollton. At this event, the retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and former Florida congressman played a video kicking off his gubernatorial campaign.
“I’ve not been in elected political office for about a decade, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines and see what has happened in these United States of America and … the place that I call home,” West declared in the video. Prior to showing the video announcing his gubernatorial campaign, West was reciting the Declaration of Independence to the church attendees
West’s campaign came after he announced his decision to resign as state party chairman back in June. The retired Lieutenant Colonel’s resignation goes into effect on July 11, the date when the State Republican Executive Committee will decide on picking West’s successor for the position of chair.
West has made a name for himself as a vocal critic of Abbott’s Wuhan virus response and made every attempt possible to push Abbott to go rightward on public policy. Abbott generally ignored West’s critiques and has made some gestures towards disaffected conservatives by passing some of their hobby horse issues such as Constitutional Carry and securing the US border.
Starting in May, former State Senator Don Huffines threw his hat in the ring to challenge Abbott. Since facing attacks from his Right, Abbott has leaned on former President Donald Trump to help prop him up. Back in June, Abbott received Trump’s endorsement for reelection and even announced a plan to build a border wall as a signal to Trump that he would finish what the president started.
West was previously the congressman for Florida’s 22nd district from 2011 to 2013. He then moved to Texas in 2014 where he would become the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that closed down in 2017.
West’s entry into this race is a productive development. Huffines and West are both solid challengers to Abbott that will at least force him to go right on key issues.
For too long, Republicans have become slaves to Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment, which de facto ordained that Republicans should not criticize other Republicans. And yes, this even applied to when Republicans deviated from the standards that their constituents held.
Such a conformist rule has allowed for sub-optimal incumbents to stay safe from criticism, while also continuing to betray their constituents. If Texas conservatives want to maximize the passage of conservative legislation, they should completely take advantage of the 2022 gubernatorial primaries.
Even if Huffines or West don’t end up winning, the pressure these two can exert on Abbott could be enough to make Abbott start fighting to enact conservative legislation. Liberty conservatives should take note of this and leverage primaries as a way of influencing the political behavior of candidates and incumbents alike.