The inability to draw on a prominent name extended to Nevada. The Tarkanian name once counted for a lot on the basketball court, but not so much in politics these days. Danny Tarkanian was the star point guard in the early ‘80s at UNLV, where he was coached by his celebrated towel-chomping father, Jerry Tarkanian. Danny Tarkanian lost his race for a House seat in Congress, his fourth straight political defeat.
Breaking with the family trend was Tom Rooney. The nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, easily won re-election to his U.S. House seat from Florida.
Four ex-NFL players were in the mix: Jon Runyan, a lineman who spent most of his 14 NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, held his New Jersey seat in Congress; Clint Didier, once a star tight end for the Redskins, lost his race to become public lands commissioner in the state of Washington; Phil Hansen, a defensive end who played on three Super Bowl teams for the Bills, lost a tight race for the Minnesota Legislature; and Jimmy Farris (Falcons, Redskins) was trounced in his bid for a U.S. House seat from Idaho.
In college basketball, Al Lawson, once a Florida A&M star and assistant coach to Hugh Durham at Florida State, was beaten in a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida. Jim Tedisco, a Union College star in the early ‘70s, won his seat in the New York Legislature.
A one-time Harlem Globetrotter provided some razzle-dazzle in Arkansas. Fred Smith, of the Green Party, was elected to the Legislature when a judge said no votes would be counted for his opponent because of a felony conviction.
In a sports-related ballot measure, Glendale, Ariz., voters rejected a sales tax enacted this summer, but it’s still uncertain what this does to the proposed sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.