Allen West Keeps His Own Political Future Alive by Shaping National GOP's
Around the State
Allen West keeps hinting that he’ll run for future office and five congressional endorsements he made on Tuesday only raised more questions about what his future aspirations are.
West announced on Tuesday he was backing four Republicans running for Congress: Will Hurd in Texas, Barry Loudermilk in Georgia, Lee Zeldin in New York and Ryan Zinke in Montana. But the biggest endorsement West offered Tuesday was for Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate looking to flip retiring Democrat Tom Harkin’s Senate seat in Iowa. All of West’s endorsements, like the former congressman, served in the armed forces.
Of course, Iowa is the home of the first presidential caucus. Since losing his seat in Congress to Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2012, West has hinted a few times that he could run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
West is also trying to spin why he lost to Murphy. Pointing to voter irregularities in St. Lucie County, West said the Florida GOP did nothing to help him in the aftermath of the contest. West also continues to pout that the GOP-controlled Legislature didn’t help him much with redistricting.
To be sure, the Legislature handed Tom Rooney a more secure district than West. But Rooney had seniority and West, to his credit, made no attempt to moderate his conservative views despite representing a swing district.
West helped seal his own fate in the closing days of the 2012 election by taking his eyes away from his district. Less than a month before the election, in the middle of October, West was far away from Florida, hitting the campaign trail in California. West might be a national star for conservatives but he needed to focus more on the home front. This is only confirmed by West’s choice to avenge him. Deciding against a rematch with Murphy, West threw his support to Ellen Andel who quickly dropped out of the race after she failed to raise adequate funds.
But despite losing in 2012 and not running this time out, West has gone out of his way to remain politically active, endorsing candidates and leaving the option of running for office again on the table. Murphy is looking much stronger than he did two years ago and West may opt out from running against his old foe again. But there are other options looming. A serious presidential bid seems a little out of reach, despite his backing of Ernst in Iowa. Still, West could certainly shape the national debate and running for president has been a good career move for plenty of Republican dark horses like Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee.
The Senate is more of a possibility and West could have his chances in the years to come. Marco Rubio has already said that if he runs for the presidency in 2016, he won’t look to stay in the Senate. West could also target a seat in 2018, whether or not Bill Nelson runs for a fourth term.
Regardless of where his path takes him in the future, as his announcement on Tuesday confirms, West shows no signs of going away. He will be looking to shape the political debate more to the right in the years to come.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.