ESPN's Craig James may run for U.S. Senate

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on December 13, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 13 at 7:52 PM

The speculation game started again Tuesday about whether former SMU football star and ESPN analyst Craig James will toss his name in the ring for U.S. Senate.

As WFAA reported exclusively in January last year, James said he'd be interested in running if Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison resigned. She didn't, but the seat will be open when her term ends.

James would be running against former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

The speculation fired up again about James when sources told The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers, who sent out a tweet that James will be filing by the deadline Thursday. That deadline has apparently now been extended through Monday because of the ongoing court fight over the Texas primary.

James didn't respond to a WFAA e-mail request to confirm his intentions.

James would be an instant contender for the Senate seat because of his high name identification from his role on ESPN.

Last year, he spoke about his interest in politics, saying, "I want to be part of it as opposed to sitting on the sidelines."

Since then, James joined the board of conservative Austin think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation to study issues. He has also circulated among Republican activists in Texas.

"I'm doing my homework. I'm out there. I'm meeting people. I'm listening. I'm encouraged to be a part of it and get in the game," James said.

What would still be a factor for James is the fallout from his role in the dismissal of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach. James accused Leach of locking his son, Adam James, in a utility room as punishment.

Adam recorded his ordeal in a cell phone video. The university eventually fired Leach.

"Any mom or dad that knew what we knew at the time we knew it would have taken the same action that we did," Craig James told WFAA last year. "Whatever the consequences are, we didn't care about that."

Roy Bailey, a former finance chairman for the Republican Party of Texas and a James booster, did say James is "strongly considering" running for Senate because James has been hearing from Republicans all over the state and the "momentum is building" for his candidacy.

We'll know for sure if and when he actually files to run.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

 

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