ENG: Allen Bernard West (born February 7, 1961) is a United States politician. He joined the United States Army in 1982, a year before receiving a B.A. in political science. In 1986, West earned an M.A. in political science at Kansas State University. He married Angela M. Graham on December 24, 1989 and they later had two children. As part of Operation Desert Storm, West was deployed to Kuwait in 1991, before returning to Kansas State University later that year, when he was an Army ROTC instructor until 1994. West also attended United States Army Command and General Staff College and received a Master of Military Arts and Sciences in political theory, military history and operations in 1997. While serving as an exchange officer at Camp Lejeune between 1999 and 2002, he was promoted to Lieutenant colonel. Deployed for the Iraq War in 2003, West was involved in a controversial interrogation incident, which led to his retirement in 2004.
After retiring, West moved to Florida and taught American History and track and field for a year at Deerfield Beach High School.
He was briefly sent to Afghanistan as a civilian adviser to the Afghan National Army. West entered politics in 2008, when he ran for U.S. Representative from Florida's 22nd congressional district as a Republican, but lost against Democratic incumbent Ron Klein. In a re-match against Klein in 2010, West won the seat, coinciding with historic Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections. On January 3, 2011, West took office as the first black Republican Congressman from Florida since Josiah T. Walls left office in 1876. In his brief congressional career, West served on the Armed Services and Small Business Committees. He was also a member of the Tea Party Caucus and has been referred to as one of the champions of the Tea Party movement. Redistricting due to the 2010 census made his district more Democratic, resulting in West switching to Florida's 18th congressional district for the 2012 House elections. However, he lost by 2,429 votes in a very expensive and competitive election against newcomer Patrick Murphy. After a recount failed, the original results were certified, and West conceded to Murphy on November 20, 2012. In Florida's 22nd district, West was succeeded by Democrat Lois Frankel on January 3, 2013.
Early life and education
Allen Bernard West was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Elizabeth (1931–1994) and Herman West, Sr. (1920–1986) on February 7, 1961. His father and older brother were both career military officers; West's father served in World War II, and his brother served in Vietnam. His mother was a civilian employee of the United States Marine Corps.
Although both of his parents were registered Democrats, West has remarked that they "raised (him) very conservatively."
In the tenth grade, West joined the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and entered the United States Army in 1983 when he graduated from the University of Tennessee. West is the third of four consecutive generations in his family to serve in the United States armed forces. He later received a master's degree in political science from Kansas State University. He also earned a master of military arts and sciences degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer College in political theory and military history and operations.
Post-military career (2004–2007)
After retiring from the U.S.
Army, West moved his family to Florida and taught U.S. history and coached track and field at Deerfield Beach High School for a year. He then spent two years working for Military Professional Resources Inc., a defense contractor. While with MPRI, West served in Kandahar, Afghanistan as a "regional director." In that capacity, he was an adviser to the Afghan National Army.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - 2008
In 2006, E. Clay Shaw, Jr. was defeated by Democrat Ron Klein in Florida's 22nd Congressional district, which leaned Republican since its establishment in 1993. Allen West entered politics in 2008 to regain the lost House seat, challenging freshman incumbent Klein. West received the Republican nomination without opposition. However, he lost to Klein by a margin of 9.4% of the votes. The official results were Klein with 169,041 votes (54.7%), West with 140,104 votes (45.3%), and write-in candidate Michael Prysner with 6 votes.
West spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 20, 2010 and was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. West was one of 32 African-American Republican candidates for Congress in 2010. He said he supported the Tea Party movement and rejected the notion that the movement was motivated by racism, saying the accusation was a creation of liberal critics and the news media. West has been described as a "tea party star" became a member of the congressional Tea Party Caucus in February 2011. West defeated incumbent Ron Klein by a margin of 8.8%. West, along with newly elected Tim Scott, were the first African-American Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts retired in 2003. West raised $5.4 million for his campaign, while his incumbent opponent raised $2.5 million. According to West, "...over 97 percent of our donations have come from individual contributions."
West raised more than $1.5 million in the 2011 second quarter to support his 2012 reelection bid. The National Journal's Cook Political Report in 2011 named West one of the top 10 Republicans most vulnerable to redistricting in 2012.
On February 1, 2012, West announced that he would run for reelection from the new 18th Congressional District, which consists of a majority of the previous 16th Congressional District. This came in the wake of Representative Tom Rooney switching from the 16th Congressional District to the 17th; a move that was considered likely to dramatically improve West's chances of reelection, although it was still a competitive race. He received a primary challenge from Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder. West did not debate Crowder and said "debating uninformed opponent would waste voters’ time". Incumbent West defeated Crowder in a landslide, receiving 74.4% of the vote.
His general election opponent was Democrat Patrick Murphy, a political newcomer and formerly a Republican until 2011. The campaign featured several negative ads, including one released by American Sunrise PAC that was extremely critical of West's policies and depicted him in violent cartoon action against several individuals. West issued a statement condemning the ad, stating that it "plays on stereotypes" with the goal of diverting Americans from more pressing matters at hand such as high unemployment. He claimed the ad was released by the family of his opponent. The campaign manager of his opponent, said the ad was from a third party and therefore held no liability for it. After primary opponent Crowder endorsed Murphy, a spokesman of the West campaign said "Crowder is a Democrat and a sore loser. I’m shocked he waited this long. Perhaps Crowder hopes to continue cozying up to local Democrats so he can be their nominee against Allen West in 2014."
Initial vote counts showed Murphy defeating West by a narrow margin of 2,000 votes. West did not concede, citing irregularities in St. Lucie County where some early ballots may have accidentally been counted twice. Florida state election officials unofficially certified Murphy as the winner, A partial recount of early ballots cast between November 1 and 3, 2012 in St. Lucie County slightly decreased the margin separating the candidates, and the West campaign sought further recounts. West said that if the final results show a loss, he would not cling to his title as a member of Congress, but wanted to ensure a fair election was carried out, raising the potential of a protracted legal battle. As of the November 18 state deadline, the St. Lucie County election officials had not completed a recount of all of the early ballots, and so the previously submitted vote count which showed Murphy as the winner by 2146 votes was submitted to the state election officials. The West campaign conceded the election on November 20, 2012.
West's rhetoric has won him both support and condemnation from differing groups along the American political spectrum. Members of the conservative movement view him as a "torch bearer" and "conservative icon", with Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent both recommending him for Vice President, and Glenn Beck supporting him for President. Several remarks by West have caused differing degrees of controversy. These include calling President Barack Obama "an abject failure", ordering both pro-Palestinian demonstrators and the views of "chicken men" Democrats to "get the hell out" of the United States, opining that drivers with Obama bumper stickers are "a threat to the gene pool", and pronouncing that black Democrats are trying to keep African Americans "on the plantation", while casting himself as the "modern-day Harriet Tubman" ferrying them to rescue. In a critical summation of West's stylistic bombast, the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine opined that "[for West] every sentence is a proxy war in the larger struggle between patriots and the 'people in this world that just have to have their butts kicked.'"
In January 2011, West joined House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in condemning the official flying of a Palestine Liberation Organization flag in Washington D.C.. West said that the raising of the flag is "an attempt to legitimize an organization with a known history of terrorist actions". In February, West described Michael Ledeen as one of his "foreign policy heroes", and implored his followers to read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals to "understand what they're up against." Other authors West has cited in helping him shape his worldview include philosopher John Stuart Mill and Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman, known for the proclamation that "war is hell".
Ideologically, West has cast his work overseas in historical terms, theorizing that America is following in the footsteps of Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours, or the 300 Spartan Hoplites at the Battle of Thermopylae, in defending Western civilization against Muslim threats from the Middle East. In speaking on what he believes to be Islam's proclivity for violence, West remarked that "Something happened when Mohammed enacted the Hijra and he left Mecca and he went out to Medina, it became violence." In lieu of this view, in February 2011, West cited the threat of "radical Islamic terrorists" as his motivation for voting to extend provisions of the Patriot Act; however, he voted against another extension in May 2011. When asked during an interview with The Shalom Show how he would work with others "like Keith Ellison, who supports Islam," West stated that Ellison, a Minnesota Congressman and practicing Muslim, represents the "antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established." West later argued that his initial comment was misconstrued. He said the comments were "not about his Islamic faith, but about his continued support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)." In a Boynton Beach Town Hall meeting, West told the Miami leader of CAIR that "I will always defend your right to practice a free religion under the First Amendment, but what you must understand, if I am speaking the truth, I am not going to stop speaking the truth. The truth is not subjective."
On July 19, 2011, West sent an email to Democratic Representative and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in response to comments directed at him in a speech the Congresswoman made on the floor of the House of Representatives after West had departed the chamber. West's email, which he copied to members of House Democratic and Republican leadership, characterized Wasserman as "the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives", said that she was "not a lady" and asked that she focus, instead, on her own congressional district. This is a long-standing dispute that West says "dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign headquarters, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach."
At town hall meeting in Palm City, Florida on April 11, 2012, West was asked by a man in the audience, "What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card carrying Marxists or International Socialists?" West responded that he believed "there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party." When asked to name them, he replied "It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
In addition to being a certified master scuba diver, West is an avid motorcyclist who rides his American-flag-painted Honda VTX 1800R retro cruiser to various campaign events. He frequently appears at these rallies donning boots and a black leather vest adorned with Rolling Thunder patches on the back and the word "Christian" on the front.
West married Angela M. Graham on Christmas Eve in 1989. She is a financial adviser with a Ph.D. in education. They currently reside in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and have two teenage daughters.
January 23, 2013