In 2018, former WWE champion Glenn “Kane” Jacobs followed in the footsteps of Jesse Ventura and became the second WWE star to occupy a public office in the U.S.
In his new book, “Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and in Politics,” Jacobs, a 52-year-old Republican, tells the remarkable story of how he traded the wrestling ring for the political arena and went on to be elected mayor of Knox County, Tenn.
Inspired to pursue politics by libertarian figures like former presidential candidate Ron Paul, Fox News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano and others, Jacobs has a lot to say about his new line of work. Fox News caught up with Jacobs to talk about his new book, challenges facing the Republican Party going into 2020 and his thoughts about impeachment.
FOX: What can readers take away from your new book “Mayor Kane”?
JACOBS: … It goes through my early life. I was born on the United States airbase in Madrid, Spain. My dad, of course, was in the Air Force. I grew up in a small town in Missouri, went to college on a basketball scholarship, ended up playing football, had dreams of playing in the NFL, but had a severe knee injury which caused that not to happen, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, because I got into the world of professional wrestling due to my knee injury. I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success. And after that, and as my wrestling career was winding down, I decided to pursue elected office as the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, and the book tells that story. There’s a lot [in the book] about my history in wrestling, especially from WWE during the Attitude Era, which is kind of the golden age of WWE, but also some political philosophy. And my personal life as well, a little bit about my family, that sort of thing.
Kane, taking two top stars down during the WWE Raw event at Rose Garden arena in Portland, Ore., Monday February 27th, 2012. (Photo by Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)
FOX: Do you think wrestling fans will enjoy it or is it more politics-based?
JACOBS: Well, it’s a mix of both. And the politics is not of the partisan variety. It’s much more of why I believe what I believe. It’s much more philosophical. And with wrestling, you know, much of the book, of course, is geared towards WWE audience. A lot of things about the Attitude Era. But also I think it’s an interesting story how I got to WWE, you know, the road that I took, which is different, everyone’s is. So I think there’s something in the book for everyone. And in the end from kind of a big picture. When I say something for everyone, it’s the story about overcoming obstacles and challenges in your life. And I think that that’s something that everyone can relate to because that’s something we all go through.
FOX: Was there a time you felt the urge to get into politics? Or has it just always been something you wanted to do?
JACOBS: It’s always been something that I’ve been interested in, government and politics. For many years I said that there is no way I would ever pursue elected office. And then I just changed my mind because I felt that I hopefully have something to offer. You know, my reason for getting in politics was I think like many folks, I wanted to have a positive impact on my community. And I felt the best way to do that was through the office of mayor. And as mayor, you have the ability to get things done, whereas say in Congress, you know, it’s difficult because you’re one of many, many voices. But as mayor, you have a lot of influence in your community, even though it’s I guess it’s really intense, but not concentrated in a smaller area, you know, whereas at the federal level, it’s diffused over a larger area. But that’s what attracted me to the mayor’s position, is I felt that I could really have a good influence, a positive influence on my community.
FOX: Did you ever have any doubts that you could pull off a win?
JACOBS: Anytime you pursue something new you have some doubts. I was actually really confident. In fact, I only won my primary by 23 votes. And a lot of people afterward told me that, you know, they didn’t think there’s a way I could win. And I was like, well, I thought I was going to win all along. You know, until election day, when I came out and I was immediately behind in the polls, that was the one time that I was like maybe I can’t win this thing. But throughout the campaign, you know, I thought that we’d run a good campaign. I thought that we could use the wrestling stuff strategically. I couldn’t run from it, didn’t want to run from it. I’m very proud of my career in WWE, but I felt that we couldn’t rely on that. We had to show people that there was substance as well. And I thought that we’d done that very well. I thought that we’d made the right strategic moves to make all that happen. So I’ve been confident throughout. And I knew that some people would be turned off by the wrestling thing. And that’s fine. That’s to be expected. You can’t appeal to everyone. But I felt that if we had the right message, that we could certainly win. And I thought that we did that.
The Great Khali and ECW Champion Kane stare each other down during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena on June 15, 2008 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)
FOX: Did you try to stay away from your WWE persona when running for office?
JACOBS: I didn’t run on being Kane from WWE. We strategically looked at things that we could do that were kind of fun and lighthearted. But I also knew that we would have to show a lot of substance. The novelty of being who I was in that particular race would certainly generate some publicity, would generate interest. But at the same time, if I couldn’t back that up by having substance, it was going to be very embarrassing and not taken seriously. Yes, I was concerned about being taken seriously. But I was confident that I could do that. So, you know, we didn’t try to run from anything. I couldn’t run from it. It was part of me. We had to figure out how to use it in a constructive way. It’s kind of figuring out how this would work, you know, and luckily my opponents were very good people. The race was really a clean race. There wasn’t a whole lot of mudslinging. So, you know, we didn’t have to worry about people just being over the top with their portrayals or criticism, which I’m thankful for. And of course, on my side to it, we tried to run a really clean race. That’s how I think it should be done, as well as saying the things that the stars aligned, and we were able to do what we thought we needed to do strategically to pull it off. And it was very close. But in the end, we were able to do it.
FOX: Has traveling around the world with the WWE helped shape your ideals and goals as mayor of Knox County, Tenn.?
JACOBS: It was pretty refreshing because I didn’t have to get on a plane every other day and fly somewhere around the world. I do spend a lot more time at home, I’m busy. But, you know, it’s in many ways I feel like it would kind of turn the page right. And, you know, traveling all the time, that’s the worst part actually about being in WWE. It’s constantly being on the road. So, you know, I’m glad to be able to spend more time at home. But my experiences from traveling around the world, I think helped shaped my world view in a different way if I hadn’t done that. And I’ve seen some really pretty places and I’ve also seen some pretty awful places. And you can find lessons in both. And hopefully I can apply that to the position of mayor, you know, and you see what happens when there’s good policies. You see what happens when there’s bad policies. And for better or worse, I’ve been able to see that all around the world. I’ve met people from all different cultures. I’ve been to all different countries. And the thing I think that almost everyone has in common is as human beings, we really just want a good life for ourselves and our kids and our families. And it’s sad that we can’t start there when we’re having political conversations and we concentrate so much on our differences as opposed to what brings us together. So, I’m very thankful and grateful that I’ve had that experience can actually see, you know, the people around the world really want the same thing that all us want. And I think that’s a message that needs to be heard more and something that could bring us together.
FOX: What are some of the biggest challenges the Republican Party faces going into 2020, would you say?
JACOBS: I think the Republican Party needs to redefine itself as the party of opportunity. And that’s what the Republican Party has always been about. It’s about free markets. It’s about individual liberty. You know, when we talk about government being small. Basically, what we’re saying is that people should have the ability to live their lives, be free to act as they would wish to act, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else and to create their own vision, their own version of the American dream. The Republican Party gets sidetracked by things like identity politics, you know, and does not get that message out in my opinion. It should market itself much more as the party of opportunity, as the party of liberty and freedom.
FOX: What have been your thoughts on the impeachment process? Do you think it’s something that can hurt our country?
JACOBS: The process, the impeachment process is inherently political. I mean, when you know, when President Andrew Johnson was impeached, it was political. So I think that we all realize that it’s not a fair process in any case. I do think it’s hurting the country. I think it’s hurting the Democratic Party, frankly, because, you know, what they’ve done is they’ve put so much effort into destroying Donald Trump and the Republicans that they’re ignoring the business of the country. And that’s what Trump is going to campaign on, is that he took their best shot. He’ll survive. You can get impeached in the House. But I don’t believe that the Senate is going to actually eject him from office. So, you know, in the end, he’s going to come out, he’s going to win and he’s taking their best shot. And, you know, if I were him and I’m sure he will, that’s my message. We spent all this time and energy on creating even more division and separating the country even more while there is work to be done. And instead, we took the political road and you know, I’m with the rest of the country. I’m frankly disgusted at what I see in Congress most of the time and, the fact that we took we look to government to fix things. Congress couldn’t fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at this point in time. And I think all of this just reinforces it. We really need some people who are unifiers instead of divisive. And folks look at Trump and they say, well, he’s hugely divisive. And that’s true. But at the same point, he’s really a product of the system, he took advantage of it. So if I were the Democrats and I were Congress, I’d be looking at people who could actually bring the country together instead of, it feels like you’re just trying to knock the other person out and not listen to what they actually have to say. And that’s very unfortunate. And we need people who can unify, who can bring the country together. And this is just making things utterly worse.
FOX: You’re the second WWE star to win public office in the U.S., following in Jesse Ventura’s footsteps. Do you think we could possibly see you run for governor or maybe president?
JACOBS: I can assure you will not see me run for president because, again, I think a lot can be accomplished at the state and local levels. And I think that we often discount the importance of state and local politics because we concentrate so much on federal politics. As for higher office. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have any sort of plan or anything like that. I just want to do the best I can in the position that I’m in. You know, when the time comes and maybe look at something else, maybe I want to do something else with my life. Right now, just the most important thing is I want to try to be and I am being the best mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, that I can possibly be.