Congressman Allen West (R-FL) addressed a sold-out Palm Beach County Tea Party meeting on Monday night. One of his primary objectives was to discuss his vote in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which caused great discomfort among fiscal conservatives.
This part of the mission went well for West, because the next thing you know, the crowd wanted to know if he’d consider a Senate run. The Politico staff became very excited by his response:
“If people want to talk to me about something like that it would be very disrespectful and rude for me to slam the door in their face,” West said on Monday night at a sold-out Palm Beach County tea party meeting, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“I cracked it open enough so that people can slip a note under the door and I can read the note and I can write back on the note ‘probably not’ and send it back out under the door,” the newspaper quotes West saying.
That’s in contrast to the “definitive ‘no’” that the Sun Sentinel reported West gave reporters and editors on Aug. 9 when asked “if there was ‘any chance’ he’d run for the Senate instead of seeking reelection.”
There’s a bit of contrast there, but not enough to justify the ensuing “West for Senate” media boomlet. West is correct to note that successful political careers are not built upon slamming doors in the faces of people who want to give you a promotion. However, the political media only hears two answers from politicians, “hell no” and “maybe” – the latter of which also covers “yes.”
His comment about “slipping notes under the door” sounds more like playful speculation than a serious attempt to give current candidates Adam Hasner and George LeMieux sleepless nights. You can see why liberals might want West to wade into the Senate race and cause chaos, while simultaneously increasing the vulnerability of his House seat. It’s harder to see why West or the GOP would consider that a smart play.
As West made clear in an interview on the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, he’s thinking about further down the line, not necessarily a HALO parachute jump into the 2012 race against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. He does concede that some “influential Republicans” have talked to him about mounting a challenge to Nelson, but he’s clearly having fun with this, not laying the groundwork for an insurgent campaign:
By the way, he defended his debt-ceiling vote by saying the deal “wasn’t what he or many in the Tea Party movement want,” but “it represented major progress toward their shared desire of changing the culture of spending in Washington.” I disagree about the extent of that progress, especially after watching the deficit reduction Super Committee take shape. What kind of “major progress” will be made with the likes of John Kerry and James Clyburn at the table?
The question fiscal conservatives should be asking folks like Allen West isn’t why they voted in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The notion that it was “the best deal they could get” is simple enough, whether one agrees with that assessment or not. The more interesting and pertinent question is what they plan to do next, after the latest half-hearted attempt to slightly retard the unsustainable growth of the federal government fails.