Damon Dunn for CA Sec. of State!
Explore your freethinking mind to contemplate solutions to California's well-publicized troubles. The Golden State is known for its ground-breaking innovation, its unparalleled creativity and its history of using that brainpower to overcome tough times.
"That's just a narrative," Damon Dunn counters. "I don't speak in narratives. Narratives don't solve problems. Actions solve problems."
You once knew him as No. 80, Stanford's playmaking kick-off returner/wide receiver who returned three kickoffs for touchdowns between 1994 and 1997. You might remember Dunn as the player Tyrone Willingham referred to as "Rev," as in Reverend, since Dunn became a licensed Baptist minister at age 19.
Dunn is now out to add another title to his name: Secretary of State for California. The 33-year-old is the Republican Party candidate for California's top elections officer, a man who would supervise the state's elections and ballot measures. He spent the recent holidays resting up at home in Irvine, preparing for a challenging year of campaigning leading up to the 2010 election against Democratic incumbent Debra Bowen.
"We have to ask ourselves tough questions," said Dunn, who grew up in Mansfield, Texas, the same hometown of current Cardinal freshman tailback Stepfan Taylor.
The man who speaks of posing hard questions is no stranger to overcoming difficulty. Dunn's mother Ramona was only 15 when she became pregnant with Damon. The father was Mike Lockett, the University of Texas' starting fullback in the late '70s. Lockett was killed in a car accident while driving back to campus when Dunn was only three.
"My mom wore a scarlet letter on her chest for what she went through at such a young age," Dunn said. "She's a success story. We talk all the time. She'll always inspire me."
Since graduating in 1998, Dunn has made a comfortable living in commercial real estate. His Stanford roots remain a frequent topic, given that his Orange County home is so close to so many USC-backers.
"Football is the common denominator," he said. "It helps in the connection process you have with other people." A recent Los Angeles Times article about him noted a play that came at the expense of those whose vote he's courting. Conventional wisdom says that USC alumni and fans – heads expanded with success over the past decade – have forgiven Dunn for his 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during Stanford's 24-20 victory in 1996.
On non-football topics, Dunn speaks in excited and vibrant tones. Diverse political heroes include Martin Luther King, Barack Obama and Governor Pete Wilson. He remains a political novice, having never run for office previously. He first registered to vote as a Democrat a decade ago but never actually went to the polls until May of 2009. Like a lost soul finding religion, Dunn found the proper path to affecting meaningful change, encouraged by a lasting relationship with former U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice, whom he met while a student at Stanford, when Rice served as the University's Provost. Now Dunn feels he "gets" it. No more standing on the sidelines and failing to get involved in the process. As he told the Los Angeles Times, "Who better to reach a non-voter than a recovering non-voter?"
Critics point to a lack of political experience and the undeniable fact of Dunn's own poor history of voting should count against him. [Ed. - Yeah, well, a great deal of "political experience" and consistent majority-crushing voting by the Dems sure haven't helped California much in recent years.]
Dunn spoke of the opportunity presented by California's troubling economic downturn.
"If I get elected, I'll take it upon myself to do exit interviews with the companies who leave our state for economic reasons. I'll give that information to other elected officials. As of now, only the secretary of state gets to know that kind of information. We need to grow our revenues. We need another version of the tech boom of the '90s."
Microsoft TV ads of the '90s asked viewers "Where do you want to go today?" At the time, Dunn was busy gaining chunks of gridiron yardage.
He was part of the famed 1994 recruiting class, returning kickoffs and snaring passes from Steve Stenstrom, Mark Butterfield and Chad Hutchinson while becoming a four-year letterman. The recruiting Class of '94 group's 14 members started nearly 280 games between them, meaning that each member was a starter for an average of two full seasons. It was an uneasy beginning: Dunn lost a fumble on a punt against Northwestern on his first college play. He bounced back to run a kick back 100 yards weeks later at Arizona State.
Dunn remains a close friendship with another Texas-bred member of that landmark recruiting class: Anthony Bookman a regular caller on Dunn's Blackberry. He's also tight with fellow receiver Troy Walters, also from Texas. The 1999 Biletnikoff Award winner just finished his second season as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for Indiana State, where former Cardinal receiver and All-American return specialist Luke Powell coaches defensive backs.
"Being a Stanford football player, it's being the ultimate leader," he said. "The combination of the demands of the football field and the classroom, you have no choice but to assert yourself and be a leader."
Who will lead California? Why not Damon Dunn? He can use some blockers! Republicans are a touchdown underdog these days in the Golden State.
For those interested in Dunn's campaign, you can find him on Facebook and at http://www.damondunn.com/
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