Texas GOP Chair Allen West launches primary challenge to Gov. Abbott

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Allen West, the former Florida congressman and chairman of the Texas Republican Party, announced Sunday that he would launch a primary challenge to two-term Gov. Greg Abbott, saying he “can no longer sit on the sidelines.”

West announced his candidacy during an appearance at Sojourn Church in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, which included a reading from the Declaration of Independence. In an announcement video, West recited the words to Texas’ state song, “Texas, Our Texas” and invoked the Texas Republic’s struggle for independence from Mexico in the 1830s, as well as the famous siege at the Alamo.

“You have asked me to come back into service — for God, for country and for Texas — for a time such as this,” West said in the video. “That’s why I’m running to be your governor of the Lone Star State, so that we can protect and defend our home, the republic that we call Texas.”

West’s challenge to Abbott has long odds of succeeding. A recent poll found that 77 percent of Texas Republicans approve of the governor’s job performance. Abbott also has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, whom the governor accompanied on a tour of the southwestern border region last week, and $40 million already socked away.

However, West is the most prominent Republican to challenge Abbott since he took office in 2015, and his attacks from the governor’s right flank could weaken Abbott ahead of a potential general election fight against former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. Democrats have not held the governor’s mansion in Austin since Ann Richards was defeated by George W. Bush in 1994.

West, a retired US Army lieutenant colonel, won a House seat in Florida in 2010 and quickly became a Tea Party favorite and lightning rod, at one point accusing Democrats of having as many as 80 Communists in their House caucus. He failed to win reelection in 2012.

After moving to Texas, West largely stayed out of the spotlight until his successful bid for state GOP chairman last year. After winning the job, West went about criticizing Republicans as much as Democrats, calling Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan a “traitor” for working across the aisle and leading a protest outside Abbott’s mansion over coronavirus restrictions.

West stepped down as party chairman on June 4, but his resignation was not due to take effect until later this month.

West is the second former Republican elected official to challenge Abbott, after former state Sen. Don Huffines.

With Post wires

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