In his first run for public office, former Ohio State University and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez carried the ball across the goal line.
Gonzalez, a football star at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, won a seat in Congress Tuesday night and will represent Ohio’s 16th Congressional District as a Republican.
In January he will take over the seat vacated by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH-16), who ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and lost.
Gonzalez, 34, was one of eight former professional athletes nationwide running for public office at the state or national level in Tuesday’s midterms, but was the only Republican ex-athlete who ran and won.
And he won easily, collecting 57 percent of the vote while cruising past Democrat Susan Moran Palmer. In a statement released on his campaign website, the newly-elected congressman promised to work as hard on Capitol Hill as he did on the football field.
He cited the “enduring values” that make America unique, even as the nation appears more divided than ever.
“In these divided times, my commitment is to be a voice for the enduring values that have inspired every generation of Americans since our founding days,” he said. “It will be with an unyielding respect for the universal dignity and common humanity of every American that I will walk through any door to work on behalf of Northeast Ohio — our families and our workers. The United States is and will always be a beacon of hope for the world.”
Gonzales revealed that the “longing for the blessings of liberty and the opportunity it affords” led his “paternal grandparents to escape communist Cuba in search of a better life.”
“It was with a commitment to protect and defend the American experiment that led my maternal grandfather to risk his own life on the shores of Italy during World War II,” he continued. “The values I learned from their tremendous examples and those of my parents will act as a constant source of inspiration as I seek to move our community forward.”
He closed his statement by saying he promises “never to be perfect, but to always be honest, accessible, and tireless, in working on behalf of the constituents who I’m now honored to serve. God Bless the State of Ohio, and God Bless the UNITED States of America.”
After retiring from football Gonzales enrolled in September 2012 in the Stanford School of Business, where he earned his Master of Business Administration. He and his wife, Elizabeth, and their son live in Rocky River.
He raised over $525,000 in less than a month after announcing his run, including donations from former NFL teammate Peyton Manning, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and several other former NFL and college football players.
– – –
Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.