NASCAR star Jeff Burton for office?
NASCAR star and South Boston native Jeff Burton has talked openly about his desire to one day run for political office. Burton, who still has deep ties to the Southern part of Virginia, spends most of his time in North Carolina these days and has been rumored to be a future political candidate in both states.
Burton is not afraid to share his opinion on politics during media sessions in NASCAR garages. He is close friends with Arizona Senator John Kyl, a Republican and told the Performance Racing Network back in 2006, that if he does run it would be for a major office like U.S. Senate. (He has since told other media outlets that he would consider a run for a lower office if the opportunity presents itself.)
Enter Governor Bob McDonnell. This past weekend, McDonnell served as the grand marshall of the NASCAR Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. McDonnell spent Sunday morning making his way through the garages and talking about the sport with drivers and team owners. (The race itself was postponed because to Monday because of rain) Among those, he got to spend time with: Jeff Burton. McDonnell said that he spoke briefly with all three Virginia drivers (Burton, Eliott Sadler and Chesterfield’s Denny Hamlin), but it was his conversation with Burton’s parents that left an impression on him.
“They are very nice people,” McDonnell said of Burton’s mother and father (John and Meredith Burton). “We talked about any number of races that Jeff might be involved in, on and off the track.”
McDonnell said that their conversation was not too specific about Burton’s future plans, but he did get the sense, at least from the family, that there is some serious interest. McDonnell confessed that he wasn’t sure what state the driver was eyeing or even what party line he planned to run under.
If Burton were interested in running for the U.S. Senate as soon as 2012, he’d have quite a bit of company on the Republican side. Former U.S. Senator and Governor George Allen is reportedly gunning for a rematch with Sen. Jim Webb. Of course, there is also the possibility that even McDonnell or his Lt. Governor Bill Bolling might be interested.
note: Thanks to WSLS-TV in Roanoke for the photo of McDonnell and Burton from Sunday.