Texas governor primary opponents Allen West, Don Huffines speak at CPAC in Dallas

Republicans Allen West and Don Huffines, both challenging Gov. Greg Abbott for Texas governor in 2022, took diverging approaches to their speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.

They are two of three Republican primary opponents Abbott has garnered for 2022 so far. Both were on the slate of speakers at the three day conference in Dallas.

While Huffines spent much of his time on the CPAC stage criticizing Abbott, disputing that he’s conservative, the governor’s name didn’t come up in West’s roughly 6-minute remarks. West didn’t even note he is running for governor.

“You saw earlier where Joe Biden said, ‘If you don’t vote for me, you’re not Black,’” West said near the top of his speech. “A week ago we heard (Representative) Maxine Waters and Representative Cori Bush talk about how Blacks are not free in America. Well, let me tell you something: If you’re a conservative in America — Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, it doesn’t matter — you are free. It’s all about the constitutional principals and values that we believe in. That we honor. That we love.”

He later said, “In the face of the tyranny that we are looking at today, the tyranny that would continue to tell us to shelter in place. The tyranny that is paying people to stay home instead of going out there and being part of the American dream, and working, and earning their own way. It is now time to make that stand. To make that stand with no surrender, no retreat. For liberty and freedom.”

West, who is Black, continued, “I look out at this audience, there’s quite a few white folks out there. But you know something, I don’t feel one bit oppressed. I don’t feel like a victim because as an American, as a Texan, I’m a victor and not a victim. And as an American and a Texan, we are all victors, we are not victims. If we’re going to make sure that America is not canceled, we have to step foot on this ideological battlefield in which we find ourselves.”

West, who previously represented Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives, has served as the Texas GOP chair. He resigned from the role before announcing his run for governor. His resignation is effective Sunday, when a new chair is picked.

Taking jabs at Governor Greg Abbott

Huffines, who served in the Texas Senate, took a number of political jabs at Abbott, who wasn’t on the speakers’ lineup for the three-day convention. A spokesperson for Abbott previously told the Star-Telegram that Abbott was invited to speak at CPAC but is “focused on working with the legislature to ensure a successful special session, which will be in session this weekend.” Abbott also held a roundtable with border sheriffs Saturday.

Huffines decried the governor and lawmakers for not being able to “keep the lights on,” referring to the outages from the February winter storm, and said Abbott failed to secure the border.

Among the other verbal strikes, Huffines said Abbott “closed our churches ... on the holiest week of the year, Easter,” and called him a “RINO,” a Republican in Name Only.

“Where is Greg Abbott? Is he here?” Huffines asked attendees. “Why isn’t he here? He’s not here. He’s not here because he doesn’t want to face you.”

Asked what differentiates himself from his opponents after the speech, Huffines again zeroed in on Abbott.

Republican primary voters “understand this is a failed administration,” he said.

“He doesn’t really represent the Republican Party or Texas state Republican Party,” Huffines said, criticizing Abbott for not accomplishing enough of the party’s priorities in legislative sessions.