State chair of the Republican Party of Texas and former one-term U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) announced he will challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the primary.

In a seven-minute announcement video, West speaks about legacies and the need to protect them before drawing his sword and unveiling the slogan “Defending the Texas Republic.”

West previously announced he would resign less than halfway through his term as chair but continue to serve until a successor is chosen.

He, former Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) and Chad Prather are now likely to split the vote among the most conservative Republican voters. They face a decidedly uphill climb to oust a governor most Republicans in two recent polls believe has earned another term.

In a newly released Dallas Morning News/UT-Tyler poll (PDF), 80% of Republicans approve of the way Abbott is “handling his job,” including 45% who approve “strongly.” Nearly as many Republicans said they would vote for Abbott over Huffines (77%-13%), though the poll was in the field before West’s announcement. If actor Matthew McConaughey were a Republican, he would fare better but still lose, 67%-22%, though he would be in a dead heat with Abbott if he were the Democratic nominee.

As of yet, no prominent Democrat has declared their intention to challenge Abbott. The DMN/UT-Tyler poll found that former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-El Paso) favorability is underwater at 31/40, including 24/33 among independents, and he trails Abbott, 45%-33%, in a hypothetical horse race.

AG: That DMN/UT-Tyler poll found Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton (R) leading the primary field but in danger of being forced into a runoff. Paxton received 42% support, followed by Land Comm. George P. Bush (34%) and former Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman (4%).

CD32: Former Richardson Mayor Gary Slagel established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) as a Republican.

Note: I will be off in the Big Bend this coming week and will be reporting only major news headlines until I return next weekend.

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