Texas GOP Chairman Allen West announced his resignation Friday morning, raising speculation the conservative firebrand could be preparing a run for statewide office.
West, who has been at the helm of the state Republican party for just shy of a year, will remain chair until a successor is picked on July 11, the party said.
“It has been my distinct honor to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. I pray Godspeed for this governing body,” West said in a statement.
West “will take this opportunity to prayerfully reflect on a new chapter in his already distinguished career,” the party said.
Critics have speculated for months that West was using the job of state party chairman to make a name for himself, potentially laying the groundwork to run for another office.
West has said he’s not ruled out challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, and he has also had tension recently with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
West used the latest legislative session to push hard for the party’s eight legislative priorities, and he has spent recent days lamenting the lack of progress that lawmakers have to show on them.
He is set to appear at a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Central in Whitehouse, near Tyler, to discuss the session. The state Republican executive committee is holding its quarterly meeting in Whitehouse.
Abbott has already drawn a primary challenge from former state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas. In addition to West, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller could also take on Abbott. On Tuesday, Abbott was endorsed for reelection by former President Donald Trump.
Abbott is not the only statewide official with whom West has butted heads. Toward the end of the session, West put pressure on Patrick, the presiding Senate officer, to pass a House-approved bill allowing permitless carry of handguns, questioning Patrick’s commitment to the cause and alleging the Senate added “poison-pill amendments.” Patrick eventually wrangled the votes, he got the bill through the Senate, and it is now on its way to Abbott’s desk for his signature.
Without naming West, Patrick said in a statement at one point after the bill passed the Senate that those who claimed the Senate-amended bill was in peril “willfully misled many Second Amendment supporters in Texas.”
A former one-term Florida congressman who moved to Texas several years ago, West took over the party last summer, unseating incumbent James Dickey.
He quickly made a name for himself for his willingness to speak out against fellow Republicans. West sued Abbott for extending the early voting period due to the coronavirus pandemic, protested outside the Governor’s Mansion over pandemic-related shutdowns, and has assailed state House speaker Dade Phelan as a political traitor.
When he took over, he gave the state party a new slogan, “We are the storm,” which raised speculation he was signaling support to QAnon, a conspiracy movement which has been identified by the FBI as a domestic terrorism threat. West said the slogan was unrelated to QAnon.
This past weekend, West delivered remarks at a Dallas conference whose organizers have ties to the QAnon movement. At the conference, former Trump administration official Michael Flynn also spoke to the crowd and advocated for a military coup on the U.S. government. Flynn later back-tracked on his comments, and West said in an interview later in the week that he didn’t support “any type of military coup.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.