When Dr. Ronny Jackson successfully defeated establishment-backed lobbyist Josh Winegarner in the Republican primary runoff in Texas’ 13th Congressional District, many voters in the Amarillo area viewed the result not only as a win for Jackson and his dedicated team of campaign staffers but also as a rejection of the establishment political system that has long dominated Amarillo politics.

During the campaign for the seat, Winegarner aligned himself with establishment organizations such as the Amarillo Matters PAC, and establishment figures such as State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and retiring U.S. Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) and Will Hurd (R-Helotes). In contrast, Jackson associated his campaign with President Donald Trump and his family, along with grassroots-oriented organizations out of the Amarillo area. With his focus on the grassroots, many of Jackson’s former opponents from the first round of voting—including Chris Ekstrom, Jason Foglesong, and a number of other notable candidates—signed on to support his campaign and pushed for voters to reject the establishment.

Among those who are pleased by the rejection of Amarillo Matters is Foglesong, who campaigned for Jackson until the final moments of the campaign by holding signs at the Randall County Annex and recording Facebook Live videos for the retired U.S. Navy rear admiral. In an interview after the election, Foglesong said he views the victory by Jackson as a victory for all of the grassroots in Amarillo.

“Ronny Jackson’s victory on July 14th was a victory of the grassroots over the establishment,” Foglesong said. “Part of the establishment is Amarillo Matters.”

Former Amarillo City Councilman Randy Burkett also agrees with Foglesong but highlights his feelings that the voters’ choice of Ronny Jackson for Congress gives the Amarillo area a valuable asset in Washington.

“Ronny Jackson is exactly what our district needs,” Burkett told Texas Scorecard. “He’s not tied to special interest groups and certainly will not be anyone’s puppet. His lifelong experiences in the military and medical fields are a huge plus. His direct contact with Trump will put us ahead of most other districts. He’s not the typical freshman going into Congress. His contacts in D.C. will be huge.”

While the celebration is on for the grassroots in Amarillo, with statements by many that the Amarillo “swamp” may finally be starting to drain, the establishment is now licking its wounds in hopes of salvaging its political ambitions before the May 2021 municipal election and the expected Amarillo Civic Center Complex bond election in November.

Following their first-ever loss for an endorsed candidate, Amarillo Matters PAC posted a lukewarm congratulatory note to social media the day after the election, going on to say, “Elections are tough.”

Jackson now will move on to the November general election to face Democrat Gus Trujillo and Libertarian Jack B. Westbrook to replace Thornberry.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.