Senate candidate can't escape sports scandals

By Jim Vertuno

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

James knows the Leach saga is a liability in some parts of West Texas where Texas Tech is the region's major university. He hasn't campaigned yet in Lubbock but says he will and won't be afraid to defend his actions in the Leach firing.

He also had this for any voters holding a grudge: "I'm going to support my son against bullying acts. If someone doesn't get that, I don't want their vote. Keep it."

James picked a tough race for his political debut.

He didn't join the Republican primary until Dec. 19, a late start in a field already crowded with three-term Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, plus several others. Those candidates all had a long head start raising money and collecting endorsements.

To catch up, James said he's wearing out his pickup truck driving between Dallas, Houston and Austin meeting with "anyone who has money." He acknowledges he may have to raise money outside Texas and plans to ask former college and pro teammates, coaches and celebrity friends for support.

James has connections among prominent Texas Republicans. Before launching his campaign, he was a board member of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin think tank influential with the state GOP. His inner circle includes at least two heavyweight fundraisers for Gov. Rick Perry and former President George W. Bush.

And despite his low polling numbers, James has been invited to participate in two high-profile candidate forums.

The Republican primary is scheduled for April 3, but it could be delayed depending on the outcome of legal challenges to congressional voting districts. A later primary would give James more time to raise money and promote his campaign.

James dismisses a suggestion he's considered a long shot and believes he was called by God to run for office.

"That doesn't mean God says, 'You're going to win, Craig,'" he said. "But I would far rather have done this than let God down and not do what he had called me to do."

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