Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is one step away from being U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who was born in Cleveland and starred at Ohio State, won the Republican primary for Ohio’s 16th District congressional seat Tuesday. He received 53 percent of the vote to defeat state Sen. Christina Hagan and physician Michael Grusenmeyer.
The 33-year-old Gonzalez got a little help in his race from the man who delivered most of his NFL receptions: Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer donated $5,400 to his campaign.
He also received contributions from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam ($2,700), former Colts teammate Austin Collie ($1,500) and former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk ($1,000).
Gonzalez will face Democrat Susan Moran Palmer in the November general election.
— Anthony Gonzalez (@anthonygonzalez) May 9, 2018
On his campaign website, he says he’s a “principled conservative who will get things done for Northeast Ohio.”
Gonzalez’s grandparents fled Cuba for the United States when communist dictator Fidel Castro took control. His father, Eduardo, opened a steel mill in Cleveland the year he was born and is now president of a steel company.
“I was born with steel in my DNA, growing up in the business and working summers alongside my entire family,” Gonzalez says on his campaign site. “It was here that I first gained a true appreciation for the dignity of a hard day’s work, the value of a good paying job, and the importance of being able to put food on the table. I learned those values from my parents and the incredible men and women who helped build that once small plant into the thriving business that it is today.”
After graduating from St. Ignatius High School, he decided to stay in state, signing with OSU. Gonzalez was a three-year letterman for the Buckeyes and earned All-Big Ten honors in his junior season.
He was selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2007 draft, joining Manning along with star receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Gonzalez was with the team for five years, but injuries derailed his career.
Gonzalez decided to retire from the NFL in 2012 and enroll in the Stanford Graduate School of Business, from which he earned an MBA. He went on to run a technology company, InformedK12, focused on “alleviating the crushing amount of paperwork that festers in our K-12 school system.”
He lives in Westlake, Ohio, with his wife Elizabeth, who gave birth to their son, Alexander, in April.
Gonzalez explains his political motivations on his campaign site:
“The American Dream that my grandparents risked their lives to pursue, and I have been so fortunate to live, has felt too distant and too remote for far too many people in our state and country today. Wages have flatlined and jobs have been shipped overseas, while an opioid epidemic has devastated our state. Our federal budget is so bloated that we can’t do the basic things that our country needs to thrive.
“Meanwhile, as a society and a Congress, we are being pulled further apart as our challenges have never been greater. Our representatives spend more time fighting amongst themselves and less time working on the big challenges that we ultimately need to solve in order to reclaim our American greatness.
“We need change. We need a new generation of leaders who understand the challenges before us, and are committed to solving them with the honesty, grit, and determination that have defined Northeast Ohio for decades. Humbly, I believe I am such a leader.”
Last year, Manning himself reportedly was urged to run for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, where he remains very popular since his days with the Volunteers. But don’t expect to see him on the campaign trail anytime soon.
“Look, I certainly have an interest in politics and in our country,” Manning said. “I just have zero interest in being a politician.”
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