Since transitioning from college football assistant coach to politician is such a typical career path, Jay Paterno, former Penn State quarterbacks coach and son of the late Joe Paterno, is considering running for Congress in Pennsylvania, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Although his father was a noted Republican, Paterno would be running as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson in Pennsylvania’s 5th district, which represents 16 counties throughout central and northern Pa, a largely conservative section of the state.
Paterno has not confirmed that he will run, but according to “prominent Democratic figures in Centre County and Pennsylvania,” he has shown interest in the race and will make a decision in “about a month.”
Indications of a possible Paterno campaign were evident when automated phone polls called residents around Pennsylvania, asking who'd they prefer between Paterno and Thompson.
And in an interview with CBS Sports, Jay may have offered a bit of foreshadowing of his political aspirations, comparing himself to Bobby Kennedy.
"Look, I'm not naïve," Jay said. "Not to compare myself to Bobby Kennedy, but one of things Bobby Kennedy said when he went out on campaign: He was aware that they were there to touch a piece of something else. I'm aware of that too. My dad's gone. Unfortunately, I look like him a little bit, I walk like him. I can't help it."
Jay took plenty of heat nationally as he essentially assumed the role as Paterno family spokesperson in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Despite that, the Paterno name is still revered in central Pennsylvania.
Michael Federici, a political scientist at Mercyhurst University, said that Jay Paterno has the profile to make a legitimate run.
“In politics, when you’re a novice, the thing you need more than anything else is name recognition,” Federici told the Patriot-News. “And in the state of Pennsylvania there aren’t many names that grab people’s attention more than Paterno.”
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