The 2022 election isn’t even over yet, but Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson is already eyeing the possibility of a primary challenge to GOP Sen. John Cornyn in 2026.
That’s according to the Texas Tribune, which reported that Jackson has begun running Spanish-language ads as he seeks to appeal to the state’s ever-growing Latino population, even though his district is primarily White and solidly Republican.
Asked by CNN’s Melania Zanona about the possibility of challenging Cornyn in four years’ time, Jackson was careful not to rule it out. He said he was “open to anything” and that he would consider a race against someone who was not, to his mind, carrying “their weight.”
All of which raises a simple question: Could Jackson actually win?
Jackson, as you likely know, was the White House physician during Donald Trump’s time in office. He famously/infamously attributed Trump’s good health – despite a diet rife with soda and fast food – to “incredible genes.”
Jackson was so close to Trump that the then-President nominated Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral, to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson ultimately withdrew his nomination amid allegations that he had been “abusive” to colleagues, loosely handled prescription drugs and was occasionally intoxicated. Jackson said the allegations were “completely false and fabricated.”
Jackson eventually decided to run for Congress in Texas’ 13th District. With Trump’s endorsement, Jackson won a GOP primary runoff in July 2020 and went on to easily win the seat in the general election.
In Congress, Jackson has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders and has supported his false 2020 election claims. Jackson drew headlines when he suggested that last year’s omicron surge was the “MEV - the Midterm Election Variant!”
Cornyn, on the other hand, is an establishment figure in the party. He’s close with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and has spent years in Republican leadership.
And there’s no doubt that Cornyn took a bit of a political hit among the Republican base earlier this year when he helped shepherd a bipartisan gun safety measure through the Senate following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Cornyn was even booed at the Texas GOP convention in June.
That said, Cornyn is a formidable politician. He is not one to get caught unawares, and Jackson giving him four years’ notice of a potential primary race gives Cornyn ample time to get prepared.
The Point: Given how dominant Trump is within the Republican Party, Cornyn would do well not to underestimate the potential threat posed by Jackson.