WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida Republican Rep. Allen West endorsed Rep. Sandy Adams on Thursday, backing a fellow tea party freshman over 10-term Rep. John Mica in an intraparty GOP fight that voters will decide next month.
In a statement from the Adams campaign, West said he and Adams went to Washington two years ago "to work to get our republic back on track. We quickly learned the problems were deeper and there were some entrenched careerist politicians who supported the status quo."
West, the outspoken congressman who also represents a Florida district, said he backed Adams because she represents a "new generation of Republican conservatives who have come to the halls of Congress to find solutions and is working tirelessly against some on Capitol Hill who would rather perpetuate the problems."
West's endorsement comes less than a month before the Aug. 14 primary in Florida between Adams and Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Redistricting pitted Mica against Adams in the central Florida district near Orlando. The fierce fight represents a clash of establishment vs. tea party, federal spending to boost local economies vs. budget cutting to rein in the deficit.
Lawmakers have shown their preferences in the half-dozen Republican and Democratic intraparty battles through campaign contributions, but West's full-throated endorsement is a fresh reminder of tea party solidarity.
Most notably, earlier this year, several Republican leaders signaled their support for Rep. Adam Kinzinger over veteran Rep. Donald Manzullo in the Illinois incumbent vs. incumbent race by contributing to Kinzinger, who prevailed in the March primary.
Adams, a former deputy sheriff and state lawmaker, recently picked up the backing of 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Mica won the support of former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Wednesday.
"John Mica is a proven leader who doesn't just talk; he achieves sound conservative results," Huckabee said in a statement from the Mica campaign. "Congressman Mica's 100 percent pro-life, pro-family and pro-Second Amendment record is one I commend and salute."
In accepting West's backing, Adams said the status quo is no longer acceptable.
"The entrenched Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have led us to our nearly $16 trillion debt will be held responsible," she said.
The winner of the Florida primary is likely to prevail in November in the Republican-leaning district.