Allen West won’t rule out primary against Rubio

Former congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) declined Wednesday to rule out a primary challenge against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2016, but also noted that it would be a "pretty heavy lift."

West didn't seem to relish the talk about a potential primary, noting that it would create a "schism" in the GOP that would help Democrats. But when asked directly whether he would rule out challenging Rubio, who has been working with Democrats to craft an immigration reform compromise, the ouspoken conservative paused and mimicked crickets.

"Chirping. Chirping. Chirping," West said on WMAL radio.

(For what it's worth, former Florida governor Jeb Bush -- another pro-immigration reform Republican -- recently referred to his conservative critics as "chirpers," though it's not clear that's the reference West was trying to make.)

West said he will not run for office in 2014 but is looking at doing so in 2016. That happens to be when Rubio is up for reelection. West could also run for Congress again, but no other statewide offices are up in 2016.

"As I have always said, I will serve this country in whatever capacity I possibly can, and look, my most important concern is my country," West said. He added that he might step forward "if I see people that are not taking our country down the right path, if I see people that are not standing up for the right type of principles and putting their own party politics before what is best for the United States of America."

West lost reelection last year to now-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) in a swing district.

"We'll see what happens down the pike," West said. "God will set my feet on the right path."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | June 19, 2013