WASHINGTON -- The former White House physician under President Donald Trump as well as three other Republicans are likely heading to Congress next year after winning primary runoffs in ruby-red districts Tuesday.
The GOP contests were the main events in two districts in Texas and two in Alabama, where Republican retirements opened up House seats that are likely to remain in the GOP column.
The retiring lawmakers in all four districts picked their preferred candidates, but only one of the four was successful. Two familiar faces, former White House physician Ronny Jackson and former GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, won their primary runoffs in Texas. In Alabama, the anti-tax Club for Growth got one of its preferred candidates in one race and lost in a second.
Familiar Texans GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry did not get his preferred successor Tuesday, with Jackson defeating lobbyist Josh Winegarner in the runoff for the 13th District in the Texas Panhandle. President Donald Trump endorsed Jackson, which likely boosted his campaign. Winegarner had support from Thornberry and a number of other state and local elected officials.
Jackson led with 56% of the vote to Winegarner's 44% when The Associated Press called the race with an estimated 90% of precincts reporting.
Jackson also benefited from outside group spending in the race. The Club for Growth, House Freedom Fund and a new super PAC called Miles of Greatness Fund all spent in the lead-up to Tuesday.
In the runoff, Jackson touted his close personal relationship with Trump, who nominated him for Veterans Affairs secretary in 2018. But Jackson ended up withdrawing from consideration amid allegations that he abused alcohol and mishandled prescription drugs, charges he denied.
"I will be ... the only freshman congressman that can walk into the Oval Office unannounced and tell the president of the United States, 'Sir, I've got something I got to make you aware of,' " Jackson said at a recent debate. "And he will stop what he's doing and listen."
Jackson will be the overwhelming favorite in November against Democrat Gus Trujillo, who won his runoff Tuesday. Trump carried the district by 63 points in 2016, his widest margin of any House district in the country. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican.
And in the 17th District, which is anchored in Waco and College Station, retiring Rep. Bill Flores' preferred candidate also did not win the GOP runoff.