Political Players

“The money don’t know where it came from.”

– Laurence Fishburne, Deep Cover

This column is usually dedicated to those in the Sportsworld who believe in the power of protest and back their words with deeds. But today, in recognition of this Tuesday,s election-lunacy, we give space to those who back their political ideas with cold, hard, filthy, cash. Thanks to newsmeat.com you can see where your favorite athlete and other assorted glitterati, choose to put their money in the all-important “wealth primary” that determines every election. In 2004, the majority of athletes who pried open their wallets supported the Bush/Cheney ticket. But this year the giving has been far more even.

Here is a sampling along with my unrequested commentary:

Mario Andretti gave $250 to endangered Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). No word if Andretti shares Santorum’s obsession with “man-dog love.”

The Florida Senatorial campaign of Republican Katherine Harris has inspired few people outside the state’s asylums but she has secured the Azinger vote. Golfer Paul Azinger has given her $4,200.

Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl hero Jerome Bettis gave $2,500 to Michigan Democratic Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick two years after after giving $2,000 to Bush-Cheney.

Former Denver Broncos Quarterback John Elway has given $6,300 to Rick O’Donnell’s Republican Colorado run for congress this election cycle. In 2005 he also gave $1,000 to notorious anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO). No word if Elway shares Tancredo’s belief that “illegal aliens…need to be found before it is too late. They’re coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren.”

University of Tennessee Football coach Phil Fulmer gave $4,200 to the campaign of former Vols quarterback, 1st round NFL draft bust, Heath Shuler’s (D-NC) run for Congress. For Washington football fans, few thoughts are more frightening than Shuler returning to DC. See stopshuler.com for a football fan’s perspective on this race.

Washington football’s Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs gave $1,000 to Republican George Allen’s Virginia Senate run in 2000 but nothing this year for Senator Macacawitz. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has however given $1,875 to the son of the coaching legend. Daniel Snyder, the Washington football team,s owner, and the man who – I am almost positive – played George Costanza on Seinfeld, has also given thousands of dollars to Allen’s campaign.

Pittsburgh Steelers football icon Franco Harris has paid $2,000 to the senatorial campaign of Bob Casey (D-Pa.). There is no record of Harris giving to his ex-teammate Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann.

In one of the most closely watched contests in the country, Colts All-World quarterback Peyton Manning gave $2,100 to Tennessee Republican Senatorial candidate Bob Corker during his bitter primary battle where he barely fended off a right-wing challenge. Now Corker is running against Harold Ford who aims to be the first African-American elected to the Senate in the south since reconstruction. Ford is to the right of Ghengis Khan – but still to the left of Corker who seems to be channeling Bull Conner in his handling of the campaign.

George Steinbrenner donated $10,000 to the Republican party of Florida yet also gave $1,000 to Florida Democrat Katherine Castor’s effort to win a seat in the House.

Home run champ Hank Aaron gave $300 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign as well as $2,500 to Civil Rights Pioneer and Georgia Democrat John Lewis.

Recently retired tennis great Andre Agassi has given $2,000 to liberal Democratic Iowa senator Tom Harkin, $4,200 to “Party of One” Joe Lieberman $2,000 to Washington senator Maria Cantwell, and $5,000 to the Nevada Democratic Party.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, has spread his money around for the Democratic party in many key Senate races including $560 each to Casey, Cantwell, Maryland Democratic nominee Benjamin Cardin, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, and Tennessee’s Harold Ford. Broadcaster Joe Theisman has also given to Ford’s campaign to the tune of $4,200.

In a season of difficult news for the RNC, they did receive $25,000 from Don King.

And lastly, Michael Jordan has given nothing, but in 2004 donated $10,000 to the Senatorial campaign of Barack Obama. Both men have a dream of a world where Republicans buy sneakers too.

DAVE ZIRIN is the author of “‘What’s My name Fool?'”: Sports and Resistance in the united States. He is speaking at the conference Socialism 2006, June 22-25, in New York City, with Etan Thomas and Toni Smith. See www.socialismconference.org. Contact him at dave@edgeofsports.com


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DAVE ZIRIN is the author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States (The New Press) Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.

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