What the Media Really Thinks About Craig James' Senate Candidacy

The former SMU star and longtime ESPN analyst officially announced his intent to run on Monday, but the media's been discussing it for a week.
Tue December 20, 2011 8:45 pm
PwC Doak Walker Legends Award | SMU.edu

If there was ever a political candidate who could cry, "Media bias!" it's Craig James. James officially entered the Republican primary race for Kay Bailey Hutchison's U.S. Senate seat on Monday, but with rumors swirling since last Tuesday, it's no surprise that by Friday a fake Craig James Twitter account ( @notsenatorjames) had already cropped up. Another one ( @craigjames2012) launched soon after the official announcement, and both are peppered with the expected gags about SMU, the death penalty, Texas Tech, and ESPN.

ESPN ran an Associated Press story on its website "breaking" the news of James' announcement via friend and fundraiser Roy Bailey. The sports blog  Deadspin bitchily deconstructed  the report ("ESPN Writes Bullshit Article On ESPN Employee (UPDATE: Ex-Employee)"), but most media had already weighed in James' campaign prior to the weekend.

At the New York Times , college football writer Pete Thamel delivered the in-state conventional wisdom to the rest of the country, noting that "the timing of his decision gives him little chance of winning a crowded race" that is already led by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurt, along with former solicitor general Ted Cruz, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert. 

Thamel also reached out to former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, now the head coach at Washington State. Leach declined to comment, so instead, Thamel wrote about some comments Leach had already made on a sports-talk radio show: 

“My thoughts would be the same as 99 percent of the rest of the country,” Leach told the station. Asked if he thought James would win, Leach replied, “Does anybody?”

At Foxsports.com, Jen Floyd Engel successfully combined political punditry with college football punditry:

In this time of harsh political discourse, of red vs. blue and liberal vs. conservative, Craig James reaches across the aisle to bring us all together. There is and will remain bipartisan support for a Craig James-less college football broadcast and, really, the sports landscape in general.

No, this is not about Tea Partying or Occupying Anything. This is not about gun control, illegal aliens or what constitutes a fair level of taxation. This is about Red Raiders, Aggies, Longhorns and Frogs. This is about Broncos and Wolverines, Trojans and Gators. What I am hoping is people learn you cannot win Texas if you do not have the college football fan vote. If I am right, we all win.

If I am wrong, well, college football's gain is Texas' loss.

Brad Watson of WFAA landed James' first official interview as a U.S. Senate candidate. Watson reported that James has hired New York political consultant Arthur J. Finkelstein—who worked with Dewhurst, Senator Jesse Helms, and even Ronald Reagan as well as other staffers who previously worked for Rick Perry and Karl Rove.

In the video below, James lays out his reasons for running, speaking often of his humble background, and acknowledges that the best-case scenario would be to get into a runoff against Dewhurst. "Extending the amount of time that people can get to know me . . . that's what our goal is," he says.

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