- Allen West was elected chairman of the Texas GOP early Monday.
- In a debate during the 2010 campaign, he said his goal included “destroying the liberal progressive socialist machine and its legislative agenda.“
- And in an interview with radio host Michael Savage, West said former President Barack Obama is “probably the dumbest person walking around in America right now.”
SAVAGE INTERVIEW WITH COL. ALLEN WEST – June 6, 2013
Incoming Texas GOP Chairman Allen West is fairly new to Texas, but he is not new to national politics.
West, a one-term former member of Congress from Florida, found his path to a political comeback early Monday when he was declared winner of a tough fight for the state party chairmanship, unseating the current chair, James Dickey. Some Texas political insiders have yet to meet him personally. But if prior phases of his career are any guide, he is likely to bring strong fundraising — and controversy — to the state GOP. West has made a career out of pushing aggressive, no-holds-barred politics.
“I think that Texas really gained something,” said Chris LaCivita, a political consultant who worked with West in Florida. “We need a warrior at the top of the helm of the Texas GOP going into this election cycle and to help lead Republicans.”
West, who didn’t respond to a message seeking comment for this story, made his approach to politics clear in 2009 when speaking to the now-defunct conservative publication The Weekly Standard.
“There are three words I hate to hear used. I hate ‘big tent.’ I hate ‘inclusiveness.’ And I hate ‘outreach,'” West said, according to the Almanac of American Politics. “I think you stand on the principles that make you great, which transcend everybody in America, and people will come to it.”
His career has taken many twists on the way to leading the Texas GOP.
West grew up in a military family in Atlanta, and his father was a World War II veteran who encouraged him to join the military. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, he served in Italy, South Korea and the Middle East. He later went on to earn a master’s degree in political science at Kansas State University and a master’s in military arts and sciences, with a focus on political theory and military operations, from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer College.
In 2003, the military reprimanded him for threatening to kill an Iraqi detainee.
West has said he was trying to stop an attack on him and his fellow troops. While interrogating an Iraqi police officer, West reportedly shot a pistol next to the officer’s head. He was fined $5,000 and allowed to retire with full benefits. But conservatives rallied around his case, raising money for his defense and writing him letters of thanks.
“The fact is, I made a choice, the choice had consequences and I accept that,” West told The New York Times in 2004, adding that he is “not some bully who goes around threatening men’s lives. Certain things we have to do in war are outside our character.”
After moving to Florida, West taught high school history classes for a year and then worked for a defense contracting firm before diving into politics.
n a debate during the 2010 campaign, he said his goal included “destroying the liberal progressive socialist machine and its legislative agenda. Klein is just a steppingstone to that end.”
West only served one term, but he built a large profile for a freshman in Congress, known for fighting bitterly with Democrats. He made news for sending an email to then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and fellow Florida U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling her “vile, unprofessional, and despicable,” in an email about federal spending.
And in an interview with radio host Michael Savage, West said former President Barack Obama is “probably the dumbest person walking around in America right now.”
But he also won Republican admirers inside and outside of Congress.
“Allen West is a committed, conservative patriot who has served our Country in combat and in Congress,” wrote U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, in an email to The Texas Tribune. “He and I were sworn-in together as new members of Congress in 2011, and worked together to restore America’s security, exceptionalism, and greatness. I believe that he will do a great job of leading the Republican Party of Texas with a compelling message of inclusion, opportunity, economic freedom, values, and national security.”