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Charlie Jackson Vies to Become the First Out Texas Congressman

Corpus Christi Democrat runs in the conservative, 27th Congressional District.

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Charlie Jackson

Sixty-year-old Charlie Jackson is a seventh-generation Texan. Born in Port Arthur and raised in Victoria and Baytown, he now lives in Corpus Christi and works as a technical consultant. This openly gay man is running for the United States Congress in the 27th Congressional District of Texas—a very rural, conservative coastal area where every single county voted for President Trump in 2016.

And that’s not even the strangest thing about this race.

“I hadn’t planned on running for Congress,” says Jackson. “I’ve always been political, and ran for school board a couple of years ago, but when I saw there wasn’t even a Democrat running in this race, I decided to jump in.” He filed his paperwork on the last day of filing—but unfortunately, so did someone else.

Ricardo “Ricky” De La Fuente also filed on the last day for the House seat, so he will face Jackson in the March 3 primary. 

“It’s really weird,” Jackson says with a laugh. “He doesn’t live in Texas; I’ve never seen him here, and he’s also on the ballot in California.” 

That’s right, De La Fuente is running for Congress in two different states, and he ran for Congress as a Democrat in Florida in 2016. His father and brother are also running for president this year, and his father is running against Ricardo for the California House seat. (When Ricardo’s father last ran for the presidency, he was a Republican and Ricardo worked on his campaign; this year, they’re all Democrats.)

“I filed a complaint with the Texas Secretary of State,” Jackson says. “Unfortunately, the complaint, if you can believe it, went nowhere.” The secretary punted it to the Texas Democratic Party, whose head decided that as long he filed and paid his fee, he was good to go. 

“He claimed residency on his application with an address in Victoria,” Party Primary Director Glenn Maxey notes. “So he’s met the constitutional threshold of residency to run for Congress in Texas.” 

Jackson says he’s been to the apartment in Victoria, and De La Fuente wasn’t living there. But Jackson says he’s not too worried.

“He isn’t campaigning here and nobody knows who he is. We’ll beat him in March.”

Then it would be on to face one-term Republican incumbent Michael Cloud in November. Jackson’s strategy for both races is simple: knock on a lot of doors and get out the vote. 

“I’m a native Texan,” he says, “and not afraid to speak redneck. I put on my boots and hat, and I’ll go talk to anybody.” He says he hasn’t faced any backlash for being gay, and he’s seen less support for Trump in the district than in 2016. 

Jackson had humble beginnings; he was actually a steelworker in junior college when he met Congressman Bob Eckhardt and decided to go to Washington to work for the Committee on Energy and Commerce. After returning to Austin, Jackson earned a degree in government at the University of Texas while getting involved in local politics and LGBTQ advocacy. In the 1990s, he returned to Austin to get a master’s degree in technology and managed IT projects for global companies including Dell, IBM, and Ford. He has also launched his own startups, and he currently runs a consulting practice. 

In his free time, Jackson likes country dancing, studying Spanish, writing, and spending time with his two adult sons and granddaughter. He enjoys the outdoors and the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast area, where his family has lived for 200 years.  

His main priorities in Congress would be improving the local economy, aiding small businesses and working class families, tax reform, common-sense immigration, aiding farmers, and preserving the environment, as well as health care for all and improved veterans’ services. 

Jackson has been a supporter of StartOut, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Human Rights Campaign, and many local Corpus Christi organizations. He’s excited that so many LGBTQ candidates are running and winning political races “from the courthouse to the White House,” as he says.  

If Jackson wins, he could be among the first openly gay members of Congress from Texas. San Antonio’s Gina Ortiz Jones, who narrowly lost the race for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District in 2018, is again running for that seat.

Jackson spends his days traveling the district and talking to voters. He’s currently single and not dating anyone.

“But if I met the right guy, we’ll see,” he laughs. 

For more information on Charlie Jackson, visit charliejacksonforcongress.com

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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