North Texan launches primary challenge against Cruz

Christian television executive Bruce Jacobson.
Christian television executive Bruce Jacobson.

Republican media executive Bruce Jacobson launched his campaign against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticizing politicians who are “more interested in serving themselves and their own agendas rather than serving the people who elected them.”

But when it comes to major policy issues he would vote on as a senator, Jacobson says he’s almost identical to the Republican senator Texas already has.

“Ted Cruz and I are going to agree on a lot of things, there’s no question, he’s a conservative,” Jacobson said in an interview with the Star-Telegram.

“I’m a Reagan conservative,” he added, calling his differences with the senator primarily stylistic.

Instead of an issue-based campaign, Jacobson, 57, is pitching his old-guard Republican credentials, citing his work in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.

He declined to say who he supported in Texas’s GOP presidential primary last year. He said he voted for President Donald Trump in the general election.

Jacobson praised Trump’s first months in office, including the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

He said the president is “trying to move forward his conservative agenda,” but is hamstrung by an uncooperative Congress.

“With a Republican in the White House and a Republican majority in Congress, it makes no sense that we can’t move forward a conservative agenda,” Jacobson said in his campaign video. “Most of this gridlock comes from the obstructionists in the Senate.”

Jacobson wouldn’t say whether he would support Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, as the Senate GOP leader. He said McConnell’s leadership was so far “lacking” on major policy fights.

“I don’t know that I would support any of those guys right now,” said Jacobson. “I’m really frustrated with all of Congress right now because of this political climate.”

Jacobson currently serves as vice president and executive producer for Christian televangelist James Robison, a spiritual adviser to Trump.

He said he has the support from some of his party’s leading religious voices, including former GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Both have appeared on the TV show.

Neither Santorum nor Huckabee has made a formal endorsement since Jacobson joined the race.

Cruz has nearly $6 million stockpiled for his reelection, and the endorsement of his state’s senior senator, John Cornyn.

He also has the support of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who said last month that he would work to field primary challengers for every incumbent senator except Cruz.

Texas’s primary will be held March 6.

Jacobson estimated he’ll need to raise at least $8 million for his Senate bid. He said he’s “not a wealthy man,” and doesn’t plan to spend much of his own money.

A Fort Worth-based super PAC, Texans for Texas, has been raising funds to help Jacobson. That group has attacked Cruz for spending too much of his first term campaigning for president. Cruz ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination last year.

Jacobson attended a fundraiser for the PAC in Southlake last month. It had $25,000 as of June 30, and has paid the Pittsburgh-based consulting firm, Brabender Cox, which has ties to Santorum.

Jacobson said he is not currently paying any campaign consultants.

His campaign rollout had a rocky start last week. A website went live days ahead of his announcement with filler text that said Jacobson’s positions on major policy issues were yet to come.

Jacobson acknowledged the “sloppy” appearance, but said the site needed to be launched ahead of time for cybersecurity reasons.

This post was updated to include Jacobson’s comments to the Star-Telegram.

Andrea Drusch: 202-383-6056, @AndreaDrusch