In the country’s most conservative congressional district, the race for Rep. Mac Thornberry’s (R-TX-13) open seat garnered attention when Ronny Jackson filed for the ballot on Monday, the last day filings were accepted.
Jackson, a retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, has served as a White House physician since 2006 and as the Physician of the President for both Presidents Obama and Trump.
In 2018, Trump selected him as a nominee to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Jackson’s nomination was plagued with criticism from Democratic members of the Senate, though, who claimed that he had been nicknamed “the candyman” for carelessly dispensing prescription medications to White House staff.
He was also accused of becoming drunk while on duty multiple times.
Jackson — as well as Trump — both denied the accusations, but ultimately Jackson withdrew his nomination.
“The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated,” said Jackson according to Reuters. “Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes.”
After the nomination, he returned to serve as a White House physician, though someone else had taken over his role.
Jackson officially retired from the Navy on December 1, according to a report from CNN.
Following his official filing, other candidates criticized Jackson for his entry into the race.
Chris Ekstrom, a conservative businessman, reportedly sent an email that emphasized Jackson’s role as President Obama’s physician.
“The Obama Administration saw the destruction of American health care with the failed socialist Obamacare scheme … All while Dr. Jackson served as Barack Obama’s physician,” read the email. “We welcome a spirited debate about which candidate will best represent the conservative values of Texas 13 in the weeks ahead.”
Ekstrom has been endorsed by Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) and Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX-6).
While Jackson and Ekstrom are perhaps the two candidates who carry the most name-recognition — Jackson for his high-profile position and Ekstrom for his involvement in conservative politics as a big donor — the race for Thornberry’s seat has a crowded field.
Other Republican candidates who filed to be placed on the ballot for the March 3 primary election include:
- Jamie Culley
- Jason Foglesong
- Lee Harvey
- Elaine Hays
- Richard Herman
- Diane Knowlton
- Matt McArthur
- Mark Neese
- Asusena Resendiz
- Vance Snider
- Josh Winegarner
- Monique Worthy
Three Democratic candidates have also filed for the nomination:
- Timothy Gassaway
- Greg Sagan
- Gus Trujillo
As Thornberry did not announce his retirement until the end of September, around the last Federal Election Commission (FEC) quarterly deadline, fundraising amounts for the candidates who have entered the race after his announcement are currently unknown.
The next FEC deadline is at the end of December.
Candidates might begin disclosing how much they have raised once the deadline is reached, but the official totals will be made public by the FEC in mid-January.
At that point, it should be clearer who are the most likely candidates to secure the party nomination in what is expected to be a very safe Republican seat.
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.