Allen West says he's exploring a run for Texas GOP chair

Texas Tribune News

Former U.S. Congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West gives remarks during TPPR's Policy Orientation on February 9, 2018.
Former U.S. Congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West gives remarks during TPPR’s Policy Orientation on February 9, 2018.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Allen West, the former Florida congressman who now lives in Texas, announced Wednesday evening that he is exploring a run for Texas GOP chair, setting up a potential challenge to the party’s current leader, James Dickey.

The next chair of the Republican Party of Texas will be elected by delegates at its 2020 convention, which is scheduled for May 14-16 in Houston. Dickey first won the job in 2017 after the previous chair resigned, and he was re-elected a year later — both were contentious races.

West’s Wednesday evening announcement was closely watched in the Texas political world. He had said in advance that he would announce whether he was running for one of three offices: the 32nd Congressional District, U.S. Senate or state party chair.

His potential candidacy for the 32nd District drew particular attention. The incumbent – freshman U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas — flipped the seat last year, and Democrats were salivating at the prospect of facing a conservative firebrand like West in a battleground district.

West represented Florida’s 22nd District from 2011-2013. After redistricting, West chose to run in a different district in 2012 and lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy in a pricy, high-profile battle.

West moved to North Texas in 2014 after being named CEO of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis. The next year, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed West to a spot on the state’s Sunset Commission, which periodically reviews the operation and efficiency of different state agencies.

West has remained active in conservative circles, regularly appearing as a pundit on Fox News and joining the Texas Public Policy Foundation last year to lead a new initiative there. TPPF announced Monday that West had left the job.

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