Tommy Tuberville - 11/18/16 (copy)

Former University of Cincinnati football head coach Tommy Tuberville walks off the field at Nippert Stadium following their 34-7 loss against Memphis on Senior Night, Friday, November 18, 2016.

Tommy Tuberville, who coached the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcats football team for three seasons (2013–2016), announced Saturday that he would enter the 2020 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Alabama.

"After more than a year of listening to Alabama's citizens, I have heard your concerns and hopes for a better tomorrow,” Tuberville tweeted Saturday. “I am humbled to announce the next step — I will be a @GOP candidate for US Senate. I invite you to join my team.”

The seat is currently held by Doug Jones, a Democrat. If Tuberville makes it through the primary, he has a good chance of winning the Senate election.

Alabama is one of the most Republican-leaning states in the country. The only reason Jones won the last Senate election is that the previous Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was accused of sexual misconduct, child molestation and pedophilia, among other allegations. He also drew controversy for several of his comments on race, the LGBTQ+ community and Islam.

Many people have prematurely laughed off Tuberville — myself included. Deadspin titled its piece, “Former Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville Is Running For U.S. Senate And Sean Spicer Is Going To Be On His Campaign Team Because Everything Is Stupid All The Time.”

Objectively speaking, it’s wild that we have a former NCAA football coach running for Senate — especially with the most awkward White House press secretary in history. But do you remember what happened the last time we laughed off a celebrity candidate?

We ended up with President Donald Trump.

Instead of dismissing Tuberville’s Senate bid, consider the positives. What if celebrity candidates bring something to the table that career politicians don’t? Love or hate Trump, it was nice to see him go after lobbyists and special interests during his presidential run. His perspective cast a much-needed light on the shadiness that occurs behind closed doors.

Some of our best politicians started out as celebrities. Before he was president, Ronald Reagan was an actor who appeared in an estimated 57 films. By the end of his first term, Reagan was so popular, he won 49 states in his re-election campaign. Reagan is most famous for his leadership during the Cold War and was instrumental in the fall of the Soviet Union. Not bad for a celebrity-turned-politician.

Former wrestler Jesse Ventura was Minnesota’s governor for four years (1999–2003). Putting his controversies aside, Ventura ran a campaign on supporting gay rights, legalizing medical marijuana and pursuing property tax reform. Ventura was successful in giving Minnesotans a tax-free check each summer while running on a state surplus. Ventura also generously funded public school education, despite the opposing teachers’ union. Not bad for a wrestler-turned-politician.

Other notable examples include Arnold Schwarzenegger (California governor), Fred Thompson (Tennessee senator), John Lodge (Connecticut governor), Bill Bradley (New Jersey senator) and most recently Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio representative).

So, while we can sit back and scoff at celebrities who run for office, we should acknowledge that they can sometimes turn out to be diamonds in the rough. That’s why I support celebrities running for public office, and I wish Tuberville success in running for U.S. Senate.

Opinion Editor

Samuel Schell-Olsen, opinion editor, has been with The News Record since Aug. 2018. He frequently writes about politics, society and elections.