Yet another heated contest for the Chairmanship of the Republican Party of Texas is upon us, with former Florida Congressman Allen West challenging incumbent State Chairman James Dickey. The contest will be decided at the Republican Party of Texas state convention in Houston next month.
One of the biggest issues in the race is the ability and willingness of the candidates to serve as a full-time State Chairman. Seven months After the 2018 State Convention, (nearly a year and a half after Dickey first took office) the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) approved a $150,000 annual salary for this State Chairman, with the expectation that the Chairman serve in a full-time capacity.
This strategy of expecting and paying for a full-time commitment from the State Chairman has paid tremendous dividends for the Party. Under Chairman Dickey’s full-time leadership, the Republican Party of Texas has posted record fundraising numbers, which is allowing the party to hire an unprecedented number of field staff across the state for the upcoming general election. Chairman Dickey has committed to continuing to serve as a full-time Chairman if he is re-elected to the post.
Dickey’s opponent, former one-term Florida Congressman Allen West, is well-known to many due to his frequent celebrity television appearances over the years. Since moving to Texas in 2014 to assume the leadership of the now-defunct National Center for Policy Analysis (which West led into bankruptcy), West showed little interest in Texas grassroots politics until announcing his candidacy for State Chairman last year.
West currently has a number of political and professional commitments that will make it impossible for him to make anything even close to the full-time commitment needed from the Republican Party of Texas State Chairman.
In addition to his work as an author and public speaker, for which he charges between $15,000 and $25,000 per speech, West also serves as “Senior Advisor” to the Committee to Defend the President. According to campaign finance records on file with the Federal Election Commission, West has been paid $75,000 by the Committee to Defend the President since September, 2019.
Despite standing for election as State Chairman next month, West has recently added additional commitments to his plate.
My Faith Votes, a nationwide voter mobilization effort, announced earlier this month that West had joined their team as spokesperson. In a release announcing West’s new position, My Faith Votes CEO Jason Yates stated “We are honored that [West] would choose to give his valuable time to My Faith Votes to see a historic turnout of Christians in every election in every community.”
In addition to these other obligations, West became President and CEO of the Hope Center Foundation on June 15, 2020. The Hope Center Foundation is a Christian, faith-based non-profit organization with annual revenue of over $16 million. According to the Hope Center Foundation’s most recent publicly available financial records, West’s predecessor as President and CEO earned an annual salary of $193,905 in 2018. These records also state that West’s predecessor devoted 40 hours per week to the position. It is likely that West’s compensation as President and CEO of the Hope Center Foundation is comparable to, if not in excess of, that earned by his predecessor. West is actively engaged in raising funds for the Hope Center Foundation, sending out fundraising e-mails and cutting YouTube videos soliciting contributions.
The organizations that West is doing work for are all good organizations that do very important work in their respective fields. However, one person can only do so much and there are only so many hours in a day. With all that is at stake in November, the Republican Party of Texas cannot afford to have a State Chairman that is distracted with other paid obligations.
Perhaps more troubling is that West does not himself view the Chair of the Republican Party of Texas—literally the largest GOP organization in the world—as a full-time obligation. Two of the three new jobs he’s accepted have been in the past three weeks while we are just weeks away from the State Convention.
The Republican Party of Texas must have a State Chairman that is singularly focused on building the party and leading it to victory in November. This will require, at a minimum, a full-time commitment to the party. Television appearances and speeches are just a very small part of what the job of Chairman entails.
James Dickey is committed to spending every waking hour to advancing the Republican Party of Texas, recruiting volunteers, organizing the party, and getting our candidates elected in November. Dickey’s commitment isn’t just lip service or empty campaign rhetoric— it is a demonstrated record proven throughout his tenure as Chairman.
Allen West is not doing the Republican Party of Texas or his current employers any favors if he overextends himself to the point where he cannot effectively serve in any of his roles going into this critical election season. I wish him all the best in his work with the Committee to Defend the President, My Faith Votes, the Hope Center Foundation, his book selling, and his other professional endeavors. I believe he, as well as the Republican Party of Texas, would be best served if he focused on his current commitments while allowing James Dickey to continue to thrive as the full-time Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.
Think of it this way. If you had multiple jobs already netting you hundreds of thousands per year, would you work full time at a volunteer or lower paying gig for an organization you’ve never had any meaningful input into or helped in the past? Neither will Mr. West.
Mark McCaig is an attorney and Republican Precinct Chairman in Harris County.