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New Candidates Stir Up Senate Race

Andrew Nourse, flickr

A Republican and a Democrat, each with some name recognition, have entered the race to replace retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. KERA's Shelley Kofler says the biggest buzz surrounds broadcaster Craig James.

Fifty-year old Craig James has been hinting at a run for the US Senate for at least a year. As a former SMU tailback, pro-football player and TV game analyst James is relatively well known among sports fans. But can James translate that into a successful political campaign?

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says it will be tough.

Jillson: He's never run for election. He has no political experience. He is well known but not as a political participant, so it's hard to see what he'd add to this race.

James does have is a close friendship with Republican fundraiser Roy Bailey who may help James raise the cash he needs for a statewide race.

But to win James must outpace three experienced republicans who've been campaigning for months: former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert; former solicitor general Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.

James will also have to contend with allegations that Texas Tech fired popular football coach Mike Leach because James complained Leach had mistreated his son.

While Republicans were sizing up James, former state representative and Democrat Paul Sadler of Henderson created his own buzz by entering the Senate race.

Sadler is an attorney who chaired the House Public Education Committee during his six terms in the legislature. Sadler says devastating cuts in public education funding is one reason he's running. Retired Army General Ricardo Sanchez dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination last week.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.