AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A former White House physician who President Donald Trump picked last year to lead the Department of Veteran Affairs before his nomination was derailed by professional misconduct allegations filed paperwork Monday to run for a rural congressional seat in Texas.
Former Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson joins a crowded field of Republican hopefuls running to replace Rep. Mac Thornberry, who isn't seeking reelection after 25 years in Congress. Jackson filed his candidate paperwork on Monday's deadline in Texas to get on the ballot.
Jackson had worked as White House physician since 2006. He had declared Trump in excellent health and was a surprise choice last year for secretary of Veterans Affairs, but his nomination unraveled over allegations of drinking on the job and over-prescribing drugs.
Jackson called the allegations “completely false and fabricated” but ultimately withdrew his name from consideration for the post.
Trump had been impressed with Jackson's performance, telling aides that he liked Jackson's smooth turn before the cameras and ability to field reporters' questions as he offered a glowing report on the president's physical and mental well-being. During one extraordinary briefing with reporters, Jackson extolled Trump's “incredible genes” and joked that he might have lived to be 200 years old if he had eaten healthier.
Thornberry, a former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is one of six House Republicans in Texas who are retiring next year. His district that runs through the Texas Panhandle is safely Republican. Jackson is a native of Levelland, which is near Lubbock although just outside of Thornberry's district.
Jackson graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in marine biology and went on to attend medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch, graduating in 1995.