2012 May Have Marred Allen West's Presidential Aspirations for 2016

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: May 19, 2014 3:55 AM
Allen West

Allen West

Despite losing his bid for a second term in 2012, Allen West keeps sending up trial balloons that he could be gunning for higher office in 2016.

West was on Ben Shapiro’s radio show last week and said he was thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination. Later on in the week, West spoke to the Floyd County GOP in Georgia and did nothing to shoot down speculation that he could be looking at entering what’s shaping up as the most open Republican presidential primaries in decades. The week ended with West campaigning with Tom Cotton in Arkansas in a must-have contest if Republicans want to take control of the Senate next year.

It always seemed that West was more comfortable on the national stage than being a backbench Republican representing a swing district. Even after redistricting, West made no attempt to claim the political center and it cost him. Some conservatives grumbled that Republicans in Tallahassee were more concerned with protecting Tom Rooney than West. There were even whispers that somehow Pat Rooney, the congressman’s brother, was at the center of it. In fact, Republicans in the Legislature simply looked to protect a more senior congressman at the expense of a freshman. Pat Rooney was still in his first term in the Florida House and, despite the famous last name, hasn’t really emerged as a leading legislator in Tallahassee yet.

West faced some challenges in 2012. Bob Crowder did nothing to help West after an ugly primary. Patrick Murphy proved a hard-working challenger and some Republicans have complained that West needed to spend more time on the ground campaigning instead of appearing on cable talk shows. West proved a little bit out of the loop, not coming down to address supporters on Election Night even as the race was still undecided. West’s support of Ellen Andel, who promptly went nowhere and got out of the race to take on Murphy this year, only proves the former congressman isn’t exactly on the same page as Republicans in the district.

Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann had their moments in 2012 and perhaps West could do the same in 2016. To be sure, West will face competition from the likes of Ben Carson. But West will be facing a disadvantage that Cain and Bachmann didn’t have to cope with: the RNC is already trying to crack down on the number of debates in the 2016 primaries. That hurts dark-horse candidates like West who rely heavily on the debates to spur their campaigns.

West still has a role, of course. Conservatives still admire West and he continues to be adored by tea partiers. But he will have a next-to-impossible task in winning the Republican presidential nomination and his chances of making a major impact are not as good as they would have been in 2012. Of course, there are other options. West could set his eyes on running for the Senate if Marco Rubio forgoes a second term in 2016.

Still, West may have blown his best chance of moving higher up the political ladder and raising his profile. Some conservatives wanted West to run for the Senate in 2012 and take on Bill Nelson. In retrospect, West could have been a real contender for the Republican nomination. Connie Mack won the primary but he was a disaster against Nelson. Other Republicans in the hunt didn’t prove any better. Mike Haridopolos flopped. George LeMieux threw some big punches at Mack but they didn’t catch on. Adam Hasner and Craig Miller got out to run for Congress. Conservatives liked Mike McCalister but he didn’t go anywhere. Dave Weldon got in late and never made up the ground he needed to.

West would have had an excellent chance of winning that primary. Conservatives who ended up backing Weldon and McCalister would have been happier behind West. As Nelson and LeMieux showed, Mack didn’t deal well with political attacks. West’s freewheeling style and sharp attacks would have taken their toll on Mack. Beating Nelson would have been a stretch, but it’s hard to imagine West being as lethargic and uninspired as Mack proved to be in the general election. West would have at least won points with Republicans for taking the fight to Nelson, despite 2012 turning out to be a good year for the Democrats. That’s an easier loss to excuse than getting beat out by Murphy.

To be sure, West is still on the stage. But he would have been better positioned for the future had he rolled the dice and taken on Nelson.

Tallahassee-based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (17)

2:36PM MAY 22ND 2014
All one has to do to understand the absolutely demonizing partisan shrillness of Mr. West is to check out his beyond-the-pale current attacks against (and questioning the loyalty to her country of) a legless war veteran . . . . simply because she's a Democrat . . . . . vile, as well as . . . . . clearly . . .

Pathetic . . . .
3:11AM MAY 22ND 2014
West is way too far out on that right wing to get the support needed to win on the national level, no matter how many times he appears on Hannity's TV show. He's looking for work now because of that one thing.
8:56PM MAY 20TH 2014
Regardless of whether he wins or not, I think it's good to have Mr. West in the mix. Comedian Zach Galifianakis asked President Obama: "What does it feel like to be the last black President?". Since he is a comedian, one presumes that was a joke. However, I think we should want more black people to run for office, so let's not discourage them.
2:50PM MAY 22ND 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right --> "it's good to have Mr. West in the mix" . . . . . it's always good to have a shrill extremist candidate as your opponent . . . . . . maybe he'll now decide to run against wounded war vet Tammy Duckworth after questioning her loyalty to her country . . . . simply because she's a Democrat . . . . . . Mr. West . . . everyday, just more solid proof that's he unfit to represent anyone . . . . and clearly . . .

Pathetic . . . .
W.E."Ted" Guy, Jr.
8:52PM MAY 19TH 2014
We certainly don't need a far right winger running for President!
C Breeze
8:29PM MAY 19TH 2014
The "gerrymandering" of West out of legislative existence should be of priority interest to investigators regarding Tallahassee Republican Legislators "gerrymandering intrusion" on voters' rights; Was a Conservative Black Republican too scary for them,..were these simpering Tallahassee Legislators afraid of losing their suctioning grip on the "government mammary" because of someone actually nin posession of honor and ethics ?!? Can someone explain to me Rep Corrine Brown's "snakelike" district running from Jacksonville to Orlando ( that district runs a full third of the distance of the State of Florida..a full four hour drive). Tallahassee also saved 'Medusa" crazy lady Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her primarily Jewish district who vote for her despite her "carrying her boss's water" trying to divide Israel with terrorist Hamas. "DWS" is far more interested in the "National stage" than she is in her "gerrymandered" district acquisition. Wake up Florida, "your slip is showing"!
Gregory T
4:08PM MAY 19TH 2014
What one fails to mention how his current finances are a disgrace while utilizing a majority of his contributions to further himself and line his pockets. His congressional race of a lifetime, his wife Angela did not even vote in. This is substantiated by records available to the public. West consistently claims he will be running for President when it is convenient for him to raise money (such as recently since his book did poorly and liberals heads did not explode). West is a womanizer since the days when he served in the military and still continues to do the same. We do not need another individual in the WH who loves to hear himself speak, rile up the crowd and basically do nothing. Yes, West is still on stage because he just does not know when to shut up.
C Breeze
8:38PM MAY 19TH 2014
West won't be President, but he would make a great Secretary of Defense; Far better than Chuck Hagel, or Leon Panetta, or even Robert Gates: Those three allowed Obama to decimate and deconstruct our military, not to mention allowing the VA to begin "circling the drain" on its way to the destructive "Obamacare" destruction.
10:18PM MAY 19TH 2014
Yes, Torture Are Us . . . . .

Pathetic . . .
2:54PM MAY 22ND 2014
And it's now clear, he should be kept as far away from vets as possible . . . . . lest they take it personal that he verbally attacks (and questions the loyalty to her country of) a wounded, legless war veteran . . . . . simply because he doesn't like her party . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:21AM MAY 19TH 2014
There may be some counties in Alabama he could carry.
C Breeze
8:41PM MAY 19TH 2014
You my friend, are a simpering moron; I'll bet that even your family is embarrassed by your mindless outbursts...
American Globalization 2.0
7:17AM MAY 19TH 2014
The next Republican President will be the candidate that can combine the three key Republican constituencies - fiscal conservatives/ pro business growth; social/religious conservatives; & strong defense/ global security conservatives. Allen West does not build coalitions. He only attacks Obama & the Democrats. Good presidential candidates build coalitions. Good congressional candidates attack the Opposing party.
C Breeze
8:44PM MAY 19TH 2014
"American globalization"? That says all we need to know about you: dream on you poor maleducated soul...
American Globalization 2.0
6:44AM MAY 20TH 2014
Make sure you document the date and time of your post and don't forget or deny what you said in your post. If you're a man of reason, your mind will change. If your an emotional zealot it won't. But at least you'll know what you are.
6:43AM MAY 19TH 2014
I have been following Allen West since he first came on the political scene, and I believe that he is the best choice. He understands the Islamic threat and he is not "Politically Correct" (another term for suppressed, censored, and defeated) and will take on the treat like none of the other candidates. He has studied Islam and can attack it like no other in the GOP mix.

If he is running, the Tea Party should board his train. When Allen West speaks, you want to march. He is a true leader, a quality that has been missing in the Oval Office since 1989.
10:31AM MAY 19TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right . . . . "he is the best choice" . . . . the only question is for what . . . . certainly with $18 million for a congressional race he couldn't even overcome a first time candidate in a GOP district as an incumbent . . . . . but then you showed your cards here, didn't you --> "He has studied Islam and can attack it" . . . not terriorists, not radicals, but Islam . . . . . once again, proving yourself a sad, bigoted, shrill old man demonizing one of the world's great religions . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .

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