When the former WWE superstar known as Kane ran for Mayor of Knox County in August 2018, he eked out his first primary win by 23 votes. More than any other political leader in Tennessee, Jacobs knows that, while he has gained numerous fans over the past four years, his future in public office isn’t assured. But he would rather stand up for what he believes is the truth than what’s politically advantageous. “My job is to do what’s right, not to do what’s popular all the time,” said Jacobs. “To me, what’s right is upholding my oath to the documents I said I’d uphold. I told God I would do that, so that’s kind of a big deal for me.”
While Jacobs was the only mayor of a county home to a large city who publicly opposed mask mandates and other debilitating restrictions, he was also the chief executive most under siege by the outcome of Governor Lee’s constitutionally dubious handling of emergency powers. Over the Mayor’s objections, the rights of Knox County citizens fell under the purview of an unelected Board of Health that capriciously closed business with anecdotal evidence and issued a nine-month mask mandate that the mayor fought tooth and nail against with his law director, county sheriff, and Rep. Jason Zachary. Then came our Serial Child Masker Judge Ronnie Greer’s school mask mandate that Jacobs and Zachary countered with a lawsuit funded partially out of their own pockets.
With no legal or legislative remedies to support him, Jacobs harnessed his years of media training from his WWE career to go on the ideological offense, appearing on Newsmax and narrating a masterful Orwellian video that led to a clash with the Board of Health who claimed they “felt threatened” yet couldn’t fathom that their unease was caused by their willful neglect of public opinion. Despite this row, Jacobs sees the oft-maligned former director of the Knox County’s health department Dr. Martha Buchanan as a consummate professional unfairly tasked with powers the state should never have given her. Still, amid the political quagmire and without effective political capital, Jacobs knew he had to do something. “What I saw was changing our system of government,” said Jacobs.
Though Jacobs acknowledged he did receive pushback from constituents in a county home to the budding liberal bastion of Knoxville, he believes social-media criticism and the handful of calls his office received are not representative of the majority opinion in Knox County. As the pandemic wanes and his reelection campaign kicks into high gear, Jacobs hopes to put Covid behind him but knows the government overreach it legitimized will have dire consequences in the future. “In the end, we were right,” said Jacobs while making clear he believes Covid is a serious health issue that warranted focused protection. “When we look at statistics and the science, they are on our side. I hope that people realize now how high-placed bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci have self interests that don’t align with the rest of the country.”