Former athletes becoming active in politics is far from a novelty in the United States. Gerald Ford was a Michigan Wolverine long before he was President and Jim Bunning was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame well before he was elected to the Senate in 1998.
Now, however, a new generation of athlete politicians is going to Washington.
Just one year ago, Jon Runyan was playing tackle for the San Diego Chargers. Now, the long-time Philadelphia Eagle is heading to Congress at just 36 years of age as a Republican in New Jersey’s third district — one full of Eagles fans.
Despite the Republican landslide in the House of Representatives — particularly among seats in traditionally conservative regions — Democrat Heath Shuler, former Washington Redskin and third overall pick, was able to retain the seat that he first won in 2006 in North Carolina’s 11th district.
Former Portland Trailblazer and New York Knick Chris Dudley, however, is still awaiting the counting of votes. The Republican Yale alum is leading by about one percent with 87 percent of votes counted in the Oregon governor’s race, but the race is considered a tossup.
“Tomorrow morning, we’ll be up. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be up. Tomorrow, the comeback begins,” Dudley told The Oregonian about his race.
Not all athletes were victorious, though, as two more Republicans couldn’t catch their party’s momentum. Fellow beanpole big man Shawn Bradley lost his bid for the Utah state legislature, and WWE CEO Linda McMahon failed to pull out the Connecticut senate race despite huge levels of spending out of her own pockets.