Late last month, football star Tim Tebow told Fox News he was open to running for political office. This week, the congressman in his district announced an early retirement, potentially opening a pathway for the star.
Sources in the Republican Party told the Washington Examiner that they are reaching out to Tebow to convince him to take the ball and run with it. This would give the party star power in a battleground state for the 2016 election.
Tebow himself gave birth to the idea in an interview with Fox and Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt on March 29. Earhardt approached the star during his foundation’s golf tournament, hosted to help children in need.
“What about this election cycle, have you thought about politics? You would be such a good role model for these kids,” Earhardt said.
“Well, thank you,” Tebow responded. “It’s been crazy, hasn’t it? It’s been a whirlwind watching everything. You know, I don’t know about this time in my life.”
The Fox host interrupted, asking pertinently, “You’re saying there’s hope?”
Tebow did not shoot her down. “If there’s a chance you can make a difference someday in something, then that would be intriguing.”
The 28-year-old retired NFL quarterback and winner of the Heisman Trophy, is immensely popular, especially in the Christian community. Lately, however, he has floated around different NFL teams without landing a job. He lives in the district represented by Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw, and shined in football at the University of Florida and with the Denver Broncos in another swing state, Colorado.
Crenshaw announced his retirement in a statement on Wednesday. “Now, it is time to turn the page on this chapter of my life and see what’s next,” he said. “I don’t know what is next, but I’ve got a year to finish the work I started here in Congress,” the representative added. “I really have no idea” what comes next.
Crenshaw, 71, has represented Florida’s 4th congressional district for the past 16 years. He served in the state House of Representatives for six years in the 1970s, joined the state Senate in 1986, and ran for governor in 1994, when he lost to Jeb Bush. The congressman received his law degree from the University of Florida, Tebow’s alma mater.
Many local Republicans have been considering a run, including former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and current state Rep. Lake Ray. Others on the short list have confirmed that they will not run, and many more remain undecided. Despite all this jockeying, no candidates have formally declared their candidacy yet. If Tebow jumps in the race, he will likely outshine them all.
Next Page: Republicans who want Tebow to run, and why his candidacy could be good news for the GOP in November.
“Just because your quarterback career in the NFL doesn’t pan out it doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful career in politics — just ask Heath Shuler,” GOP strategist Brian Walsh told the Washington Examiner. “If this is something he’s interested in pursuing, Tebow would certainly be a strong contender for this seat with his high name ID and reputation for hard work and strong values.”
Another Republican strategist, Ron Bonjean, warned that the race will be tough. “Like his career with the Denver Broncos, the primary game is going to be extremely competitive so Tebow may have to once again come from behind late in the 4th quarter in order to pull this off,” Bonjean said. “If he were to become the Republican nominee, he would be a shoo-in because it is a safe Republican seat.”
Crenshaw is not the only Florida Republican congressman to make a surprising retirement, however. In March, Rep. Jeff Miller, of Florida’s 1st Congressional District, announced he would not run in 2016. Among those running to replace him is a 25-year-old female activist, Rebekah Johansen Bydlak. If Tebow runs and both he and Bydlak win, 2016 could see more millennial Republicans representing a swing state in Congress.
An anonymous graduate from the University of Florida who is a huge Gator fan nevertheless expressed doubts on the wisdom of supporting a football player for Congress. “I love Tebow, but seriously?” the source told PJ Media. With heavy sarcasm, the Gator fan added, “Let’s put someone who gets hit in the head for a living in Congress.”
Nevertheless, with his youth and star power in the swing states of Florida and Colorado, Tebow could be a major asset to the GOP in a tough presidential election year.