While Republicans took control of the House in yesterday’s midterm elections, there were winners and losers for five former professional athletes who also ran for office.
Former NFL player Jon Runyan won the New Jersey US House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District. Runyan defeated incumbent John Adler in a close race. Runyan ran saying he was against health care reform and is a former U of M football player. The former Philadelphia Eagles tackle also helped the Tennessee Titans reach the Super Bowl in 2000.
Democrat Heath Shuler won reelection for North Carolina House of Representative. Shuler considers himself a conservative democratic. Though Shuler was a quaterback and drafted third overall in the 1994 draft, he only played four years in the NFL. Shuler has been North Carolina’s 11 district rep since 2007, making his career as a Congressman longer than his career in the NFL.
Republican Shawn Bradley, a former 7 ’6″ NBA center, came up short in his race for Utah’s State House of Representatives for District 44. Bradley was quoted by the Wall Street Journal saying, “As a professional entertainer in sports, you get a lot of real-world experience in a world that’s not very real—which is a lot of what politics are.”
Republican and former NFL player Keith Fimian also lost in his election for the US House of Representative seat for the 11th District of Virginia. This was Fimian’s second stint at a run for the House. Fimian ran in 2008 but was defeated by incumbent and reelected Gerry Connolly. But not all is lost for Fimian, the margin is so small between Fimian and Connolly that a recount is pending.
In a race too close to call is NBA center Chris Dudley run for Governor of Oregon. As of Wednesday morning, Republican nominee Dudley had a one percent lead over Democratic nominee John Kitzhaber by about 18,000 votes. Dudley has no previous political experience but won 40% of the vote in the GOP primaries.
One sports star who will not be running for political office is LA Lakers coach Phil Jackson. In an interview with the LA Times about the midterm elections, Jackson said: “It’s just been awful, the ads. The substance has just been awful. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t put a mute on their TV when the ads come on.”