Congressman. Democrat. TikTok star? Meet Rep. Jeff Jackson

Rep. Jeff Jackson has your attention.

His account on TikTok, the controversial social media platform, has 1.2 million followers, and his latest post breaking down in the most basic terms what happened to cause the Silicon Valley Bank crash amassed 22.5 million views and counting.

Readers immediately started emailing McClatchy.

“He does a great job explaining the daily doings of Congress,” one wrote. “I don’t work for him or even know him and he doesn’t represent my district, but his work so far is straight forward and easily consumable.”

She was from North Carolina.

But with 22.5 million views, it wasn’t just local readers.

“My wife ... started gushing over THE video by Congressman Jackson regarding the bank crisis,” a man from New York emailed. “As a retired advertising guy who hired a lot of announcers and (disc) jockeys for voice over work, I commented from across the room that the guy had a hell of a good voice. My wife said he was more than a pretty ... voice.”

Jackson’s TikTok account doesn’t have the subscriber count of, say, actor Will Smith at 73 million or celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey at 36 million.

And Jackson said he’s surprised as anyone that his latest post took off. But he knew he was onto something when his 14-year-old son — he’s a dad to three with his wife, Marisa — complimented the video. And he said he’s learning most parents are finding the post through their children.

It remains to be seen whether Jackson will win over congressional colleagues and accomplish legislative goals, but there’s something about his dressed-down, no frills, talk-like-a-human approach that seems to appeal to constituents.

“I’m just a regular guy from Charlotte,” Jackson said, when asked what people should know about him.

Jackson is big on reaching people directly and where they are, be that on Twitter, TikTok or his Substack. His favorite is Reddit, but he said you need a thick-skin to be a politician and on that website.

“In my experience, no one wants to hear what a political party has to say,” Jackson said in an interview. “They want to hear from a person. I try to be a person who speaks directly to them with respect, and over time, you’ll earn respect back.”

Who is Jeff Jackson?

Jackson, 40, was born in Miami but grew up in Chapel Hill, the son of a doctor, his father, and a nurse, his mother.

He attended Emory University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. In 2002, following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Arlington, Virginia, Jackson enlisted, trained at Fort Bragg and served in the war in Afghanistan.

Even his emails home went viral.

Jackson went to law school at UNC-Chapel Hill, then moved to Gaston County, about a half-hour west of Charlotte, where he served as an assistant district attorney.

In 2014, Jackson learned that former N.C. Sen. Dan Clodfelter planned to resign his position to become mayor of Charlotte so he threw his name in the hat to represent North Carolina’s 37th District, received the Democratic nomination and continued to win each reelection campaign.

Jackson first made national news in 2015 — at 32 — when it snowed in North Carolina and he was the only lawmaker in the state to show up at the Legislative Building. Jackson took to social media, that time on Twitter, to document his day spent passing whatever laws he chose — obviously imaginary — including the expansion of Medicaid.

His tweets went viral, and so did he.

To Congress

In 2021, Jackson filed to run for U.S. Senate and made his way through North Carolina’s 100 counties meeting constituents.

But in December of that year, Jackson announced he would step aside and let Democrats focus on bolstering the campaign of his primary opponent, former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

Originally, he said he would take a break from politics and many believed that break would last two years with a comeback to run for attorney general in 2024.

But Jackson’s break was short-lived. The N.C. Supreme Court found that the Republican-led legislature had drawn the map to give their party an unfair advantage. A congressional district drawn near Charlotte had been favorable for a Republican win, but after the justices ordered an expert to redraw the maps, it was primed for a Democrat to win.

Jackson entered the race and won easily with 57.7% of the vote.

However, his reelection isn’t a definite.

Republicans are likely to redraw the district to be more favorable to their party, and possibly to House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican who lives in Kings Mountain.

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Monday labeled Jackson a target in the 2024 elections.