Could Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., be ready to put his Tennessee Orange back on?
The moderate Democratic congressman, who was quarterback for the Volunteers in the early 1990s, is reportedly a candidate for the University of Tennessee's vacant Athletic Director spot.
According to Knoxville WLVZ radio host Tony Basilio, Shuler was approached about the open position after Atheltic Director Mike Hamilton stepped down earlier this month, and "was receptive enough to do some personal due diligence." Shuler has also reportedly contacted former football coach Phillip Fulmer, who is also considered a possible candidate, and former football coach Johnny Majors, seeking their support. A Democratic Capitol Hill source also told Hotline On Call that in recent days they had heard similar rumors that Shuler was up for the job.
When asked about the news report, Shuler spokesperson Andrew Whalen did not directly deny it.
"Congressman Shuler is focused on the very serious challenges facing our nation, including job creation and balancing our budget," said Whalen. "He is currently and actively preparing for his next re-election campaign in 2012 and looks forward to continuing to fight for the working families of Western North Carolina in the years ahead."
Shuler was elected to represent the GOP-leaning Asheville district in 2006, but his seat is one that is expected to be redrawn to be sharply more difficult for him in maps the GOP-led state legislature will release this Friday. Shuler is already facing a primary challenge from Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell, and as Republicans have focused pressure on the dwindling Blue Dog Democrats in the House, two have already resigned or announced their intention to retire in 2012.