The Washington Times - August 16, 2011, 12:08PM

Rep. Allen B. West, an outspoken freshman Republican from Florida, told a gathering of tea party supporters Monday evening that, while he doesn’t expect to make the race, he is leaving the door open to running for Senate in 2012.

“I cracked it open enough so that people can slip a note under the door and I can read the note and I can write back on the note ‘probably not’ and send it back out under the door,” Mr. West said before he spoke to a Palm Beach County, Fla., tea party gathering, according to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.


“There are people here in the state of Florida that see me as a political entity, and they are very trustworthy within the Republican Party structure. I should sit down and talk to them,” he said. “But I don’t think people are really going to be able to move me.”

Mr. West’s comments were in contrast to what he told the same newspaper last week, when he said he was a definite “no” when asked if there was any chance he would seek the Republican nomination for Senate in 2012.

The GOP field to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson is already crowded and includes former Sen. George LeMieux. Many Sunshine State Republicans also are pushing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to consider running for the seat.

Many in the estimated crowd of 400 grumbled about Mr. West’s support for a compromise deal to raise the federal debt ceiling earlier this month — a move strongly opposed by many in the fiscally conservative tea party movement. But overall, Mr. West was met with cheers and a standing ovation, several news reports said.