AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A former White House physician whose nomination by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs was derailed by allegations of drinking on the job and over-prescribing drugs has advanced to a Republican runoff for a rural Texas congressional seat.
Former Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson emerged Tuesday from a crowded GOP primary as one of the top candidates in a comfortably Republican district that covers much of North Texas and the Panhandle. Jackson will face agriculture advocate Josh Winegarner in the May runoff.
Jackson had worked as White House physician from 2006 to 2018 and was a surprise nomination by Trump to lead the VA.
Trump had said he was impressed by Jackson when the doctor gave a glowing report on the president’s health and mental well-being. Jackson had extolled Trump’s “incredible genes” and joked the president might have lived to 200 years old if he had eaten healthier.
Jackson withdrew from consideration at Veterans Affairs after allegations of misconduct surfaced, which he denied. He returned to the White House medical office. He retired from the Navy in 2019 and launched his congressional bid.
Despite his history with Trump, the president waited a long time to endorsed Jackson in the crowded GOP field to replace retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry. Trump tweeted this past weekend he hoped Jackson would make it to a runoff.
Jackson is a native of Levelland in the Texas Panhandle. He earned a marine biology from Texas A&M before graduating from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 1995.