This story originally appeared on CapitalNewYork.com by Joey Francilus
MIAMI — Retired football coach and sportscaster Jimmy Johnson made an exception to his no-endorsement policy Tuesday when he headlined a congressional fundraiser for one of his former University of Miami players, Randal “Thrill” Hill.
Ive never endorsed a political candidate for any office in the past, and you might say, Why? Randal is a special guy, Johnson told an audience of about 50 supporters, a mix of former Hurricanes players and Miami-area businesspeople gathered on the 14th floor of the Espirito Santo Plaza in downtown Miami.
He is intelligent, he is hard-working, he is qualified, he has paid his dues. And as demonstrated numerous times recently, he is passionate. Hes passionate, and thats why I endorse Randal Hill,” said Johnson, who became a FOX football analyst after his coaching career.
Hill, a Democrat challenging Rep. Frederica Wilson in the primary, was a member of the Hurricanes 1987 and 1989 national championship seasons. He played for Johnson on one of those teams and again played for Johnson when he coached the Miami Dolphins from 1995 to 1997. Hill recently retired as a federal agent at the Department of Homeland Security.
But despite Hill’s star power and name, he’ll have a tough time unseating Wilson, an iconic figure in the heavily African-American district. She was a principal, school board member, state representative and state senator before winning her congressional seat.
Hill said he has been a lifelong member of Floridas 24th congressional district.
I was born and raised in South Florida. I was raised right by two parents. And yes, I do believe in corporal punishment, Hill joked, to laughter.
The former deputy for the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office and agent for the Department of Homeland Security recalled his career as part of the brash, locally celebrated Miami Hurricanes championship teams.
What I want is to bring is a professional swagger to Capitol Hill, Hill said. Ill give you all Ive got.
Hill was joined at the campaign jumpoff by his father, Ransom, 77, his wife, physician Dr. Michelle Hill, and children, Alayah, 13, Briahna, 10, and Siarah, 7.
Dr. Hill says that the family is fully behind his decision to run.
He told me that he was considering running for Congress and I said, You should do it. It was that simple, Dr. Hill said. He wants to make a positive change, and I support him 100 percent.
Other friends also joined the crowd to support Hills congressional bid against Wilson.
Weve known Randal 20-plus years. His mother was an elementary school teacher, and all of our 6 children were in her class at one time or another, said Martin Lipton, 53, owner of Secure Windows and Doors. We have a lot of love and respect for Randal and are behind him all the way.