ESPN analyst Craig James eyes fall decision on Texas Senate run

ESPN analyst Craig James said he'll make a decision this fall about whether to run for Senate as a Republican in Texas.

James, a college football announcer who played on powerhouse teams at Southern Methodist University during the school's controversial rise, said it's "too early" to make a decision about whether to jump in the crowded GOP field in Texas.

"It's been on my radar for two years. And I've gone around the state and I've listened to people," James said on the "Coffee and Markets" podcast published on the conservative blog RedState. "I do believe right now it's too early to make that decision. In the state of Texas, no one's paying attention to the U.S. Senate race right now other than the hardcores. And I believe that somewhere late in the fall, it will become important and people will start paying attention."

James is a noted conservative activist — he said he would have voted against the recent compromise to raise the debt ceiling — and has talked in the past about joining the race to succeed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in the Senate. He said he sees a relatively "short race," since Texas Gov. Rick Perry's (R) emerging presidential campaign is likely to suck up most of the political attention in the Lone Star State.

The race includes a number of heavyweights already who have begun to build the political infrastructure and fundraising base to win the GOP Senate primary, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Comptroller Susan Combs, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Solicitor General Ted Cruz, Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), through his influential Senate Conservatives Fund, has endorsed Cruz.

"I don't think we have a candidate right now that has signed up who is from real street and understands my issues, understands your issues, understands us," James said of the current field.

A late fall decision would presumably allow James to fulfill most of his obligations with ESPN through the bulk of the college football season, but arguably handicap him in a campaign. He wouldn't be the first member of the ABC/ESPN sports team to step down to pursue political office; Lynn Swann left ABC Sports to pursue the governorship of Pennsylvania in 2006 as the Republican nominee.