Allen West, Tea Party star, could struggle to win second term

Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.
Allen West

First-term Republican congressman Allen West of Florida has become a Tea Party darling due in part to his willingness to offer up strong, incendiary rhetoric about his opponents. The latest example came at a Florida GOP dinner over the weekend, when West directed this comment to President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress:

"Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."

As it turns out, it's becoming increasingly likely that West will have to take his message somewhere other than Congress. That's because under a redistricting plan put forth by the GOP-controlled Florida legislature, West could have a hard time winning a second term - a situation that has some conservatives suggesting a conspiracy by establishment Republicans, including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

On Friday, a House committee in Florida passed a redistricting map that, as Aaron Blake noted in the Washington Post, makes his already Democratic-leaning district more Democratic. The map could change before passage, and opponents are trying to get it thrown out entirely - but if it stands, it dims the reelection prospects for West, who won by nine points in 2010.

That has conservative blogs fuming, as Politico's Tim Mak reports. Some are pointing out that House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford has been a Romney surrogate and suggesting the former Massachusetts governor wants to be rid of West - and, by extension, the Tea Party.

"Get ready for the all new GOP, under the lead of Mitt Romney. It's a GOP where the Tea Party won't be welcome, where the federal government will continue to bailout out banks and unions and everyone who's anyone will continue to make money - except of course you and me," wrote TownHall's John Ransom in a post entitled "No Room for Allen West - or You - in Romney's GOP."

As Mak notes, some other conservative bloggers stopped short of blaming Romney, though they were incredulous at the prospect of a map that could redistrict West into forced retirement.

One unnamed blogger at The Right Scoop suggested that West "made enemies in DC whose tentacles are reaching into the state legislatures to do their bidding."

"It seems pretty clear that there are some who definitely don't like West's level of Tea Party influence and that the long knives are out for him," the blogger added.

On the plus side for West: His strong fundraising ability, which includes a $1.5 million haul in the second quarter of 2011 alone.