posted on Jul, 13 2004 @ 07:11 PM
Former NFL coach eyes US Senate seat
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A former NFL coach is considering a run for a US Senate seat, following a path already blazed by the likes of California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger, and former Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, better known to his fans as the irascible "Iron Mike," is mulling a run for public office -- one in which his
considerable name recognition would be a powerful asset.
"I'm getting excited about it," Ditka said in an interview with a Chicago television network Monday.
The 65-year-old NFL Hall of Famer stressed that he was just evaluating the idea, but that was enough to rev up his many fans in this Midwestern state,
some of whom have already established a "Draft Dikta" campaign.
"We need more signatures on the petition. We want to present them to him this week and we need your help," read one entry made Monday on the
"Da Coach will do this if we push him!"
The people behind the website aim to collect 10,000 signatures to encourage Ditka to run, and say they have already passed the 6,000 mark.
Republican Party officials have not formally approached the 65-year-old about joining the race, but they are desperate to find a viable candidate to
put on the ticket.
The previous candidate, millionaire banker Jack Ryan, quit the race late last month over a late-breaking sex scandal, and some Republicans who have
been touted as possible replacements have reportedly balked at jumping into a campaign at this late stage.
Even before the sex rumpus, Ryan was trailing his Democratic rival Barack Obama by 20 points in the polls.
"Certainly, you wouldn't have to spend five or six million dollars for people to get to know (his) name," said Dennis Hastert, a US representative
from Illinois and the most senior member of the state's congressional delegation.
Even this state's Democratic governor said he would welcome a Ditka candidacy because it would add spice to the race. "I love Mike Ditka. He's a
straight talking guy who talks from the heart," said Rod Blagojevich.
There are still some hurdles left: Ditka's wife has said she will divorce him if he throws his hat in the ring, and he is not apparently even
registered to vote in this state.
The Senate seat is currently held by a Republican, Senator Peter Fitzgerald, but he is stepping down after one term and voters will choose his
successor in November
[Edited on 7/13/2004 by toejam]