Houston Chronicle

Former Texas GOP chair Allen West declares his bid for governor.

West, who attacked leaders of his own party, will be challengin­g Abbott in the primary

- By Zach Despart zach.despart@chron.com

Allen West, the former Army colonel, Florida congressma­n and Texas Republican Party chairman, announced Sunday he would challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in next year’s primary.

West, 60, broke the news while speaking to the congregati­on of Sojourn Church in Carrollton, north of Dallas. In a seven-minute video he played for the group, West said he wanted to support energy independen­ce, enhance border security and combat sex traffickin­g.

“I have not been an elected official for over a decade, but I cannot sit on the sidelines and see what is happening in these United States of America, what is happening in the place that I call home,” West said.

Speculatio­n grew that West would seek statewide office when he stepped down as head of the state Republican Party in June, after just 11 months on the job. In his brief but combative tenure, West attacked leaders of his own party, including Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

He was especially critical of how the governor handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and spoke at an October rally in Austin calling on Abbott to end pandemic-related restrictio­ns.

Last year’s general election — the only major contest during West’s term — was a successful one for Republican­s, however. The GOP successful­ly defended all of its seats in the Legislatur­e and beat back an effort by Democrats to poach seats in Congress.

Abbott is seeking a third term as Texas governor next year. Former state senator Don Huffines has also joined the Republican primary.

West is seeking to convince voters he is more conservati­ve than Abbott, said Brandon Rottinghau­s, a University of Houston political science professor. That will be a challenge, though, because Abbott signed a number of far-right bills that passed the Legislatur­e, including new restrictio­ns on abortion.

The governor also just toured the U.S.-Mexico border with former President Donald Trump, who also has endorsed Abbott.

“Allen West wants to position himself to the right of Gov. Abbott, but that’s a challenge, generally and specifical­ly, after this very conservati­ve session,” Rottinghau­s said. “It’s a long shot, no matter how you cut it, for West.”

West represente­d Florida’s 22nd Congressio­nal District from 2011 to 2013. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2004. A native of Georgia who attended college in Tennessee, he highlighte­d the careers of several Southerner­s who resettled in Texas, including Sam Houston, William B. Travis and James Fannin.

 ?? Gustavo Huerta / Staff photograph­er ?? Allen West was an Army colonel and Florida congressma­n before resettling in North Texas.
Gustavo Huerta / Staff photograph­er Allen West was an Army colonel and Florida congressma­n before resettling in North Texas.

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