George Allen: The NFL's Presidential Pick?
For readers wondering why Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is getting so much buzz as a potential 2008 presidential candidate, look no further than a recent fundraising invitation that found its way into The Fix's e-mail in-box.
Allen is holding a "Touchdown Reception" this Saturday in Detroit, the host of this year's Super Bowl. The host committee reads like a who's who of former NFL players and wealthy owners.
Former Reps. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) and Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), who starred for the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, respectively, are on the list, as are former Dallas Cowboys great Roger Staubach and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann, who is running for governor in Pennsylvania this year. Former Denver Broncos tackle Sam Brunelli is also a member of the host committee.
Allen's host committee is also heavy on the uber-wealthy owners of football teams, including Washington's owner Dan Snyder. The Spanos brothers, Alex and Dean, who are owner and president, respectively, of the San Diego Chargers, and Tim Rooney, whose family owns the Pittsburgh Steelers, are also on board to raise dollars for Allen's reelection effort.
More financial heavy-hitters are on Allen's "team" (ugh) for the event, including the head of NVR Homes Dwight Schar, who is also a part-owner of the Redskins, and Coors Brewing Company chief Pete Coors -- himself an unsuccessful Senate candidate in Colorado in 2004.
It's not terribly surprising that Allen -- alone of the Republicans looking at the 2008 presidential race -- has the ability to put together such a star-studded event. His father, also named George Allen, was a legendary coach of the L.A. Rams (1966-1970) and the Washington Redskins (1971-1977). The elder Allen was enshrined in pro football's hall of fame in 2002. Allen's brother, Bruce, is currently the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is also on the host committee for the Superbowl event.
Allen's ability to tap this group of ex-athletes and football moneymen is sure to pay major financial dividends -- if and when he decides to run for president -- because many of these people have strong and long ties to other Republican donors.
Schar was a "Ranger" -- meaning he helped raise more than $200,000 for President Bush -- during the 2004 campaign. Last month Bush traveled to Palm Beach, Fla., for a major donor event at Schar's home, which the wealthy developer bought from Ron Perelman in 2005 for $70 million.
Alex Spanos was also a Ranger during the 2004 campaign and several other members of Allen's host committee -- Coors, Snyder and Rooney jump to mind -- have significant personal wealth and networks of affluent friends.
Add all this up and you start to see the foundation of Allen's finance team heading into 2008.
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