Texas GOP chair Allen West is stepping down in a matter of days to focus on his gubernatorial run – but not before setting off some drama this week within the party, says Texas Tribune political reporter James Barragán.
Former Florida congressman West was elected state party chairman in 2020 and used the position to stake out positions at odds with incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, Barragán notes.
“The problem,” he said “is that some of the local parties at the county level are upset – because if you’re running for a statewide office, how can you then conceivably be the party chair and be nonpartisan?”
For his part, Gov. Abbott has placed Republican priorities front and center leading into election season. His recent decision to staff a state prison as a jail for immigrants is part of a broader strategy to deter unauthorized immigration. But Barragán says the Dolph Briscoe Unit, where Abbott plans to detain immigrants on criminal trespass charges, is currently empty.
“There’s 150 workers there, but there’s no jail or prison population – no one that’s been arrested that’s sent there yet,” he said.
Barragán says the move raises questions about resource allocation for Texas’ understaffed jails and prisons.
Also this week, a federal judge ruled the U.S. government was mostly responsible for the 2017 Sutherland Springs mass shooting.
“Basically the U.S. Air Force should have reported that the shooter … had a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force and had a previous charge of family violence against his wife and stepson,” Barragán said. “And those would have prevented him for being able to acquire a firearm.”
Listen to our recap of the week in Texas politics in the audio player above.