Jeremy Staat, a former Bakersfield High and Bakersfield College standout athlete who went on to play four seasons in the NFL, is running for Congress, his campaign representative confirmed Wednesday.
Staat will seek the 8th Congressional District seat now held by Paul Cook, a Republican from Yucca Valley who announced this week he is not seeking reelection. Staat, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, was registered as No Party Preference as recently 2016 but will run as a Republican.
"He's all in!," Matt Fleming of the Staat for Congress organization wrote in an email.
The 8th district encompasses most of the eastern desert regions of the state. It stretches from Mono Lake to Twentynine Palms and consists of Inyo and Mono counties plus most of San Bernardino County. The 8th CD is one of the largest and most sparsely populated congressional districts in California; its largest city is Victorville.
Republicans hold a lead of 4 percentage points in voter registration in the district, whose current boundaries went into effect just prior to the June 2012 elections.
“President Trump is under fire on a daily basis," Staat said in a statement released by his campaign. "The President alone can’t change Washington; he needs back up. Send in the Marine, Staat. I promise to always put American citizens first, prioritize national security and protect our freedom and workers."
Staat, an assistant professor in Bakersfield College's industrial technology department, was a college football teammate of Pat Tillman at Arizona State and joined the Marines after Tillman's well-documented death by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
Staat now oversees the Jeremy Staat Foundation, which gives him a platform to discuss issues involving youth and the alarming number of former U.S. servicemen who commit suicide after they've ended their military careers. He says about 180,000 ex-servicemen have committed suicide since the Korean conflict.
Staat won a 2013 Beautiful Bakersfield Award for his involvement with youth and veterans through speaking engagements, event participation, public school presentations and youth camp activity.
Staat played three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and part of a fourth season with the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders, and was also a standout thrower in track.
Staat, a 1994 Bakersfield High School graduate, is a Bakersfield native who graduated from Bakersfield College in 1996.
Staat, who has not previously held elective office, is pursing a Doctorate in Education from Liberty University. He and his wife, Janelle, have two sons, Tristen and Gavin. He characterizes himself as a devout Christian.
Cook will retire from Congress at the end of his term and has announced a run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports. More than a dozen GOP members have announced plans to leave Congress after 2020, including several in Texas.
Christine Bubser, a former biotechnology marketing advertising executive, is the only Democrat to have filed for the seat, according to the Times. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, whose district overlaps about two-thirds of the 8th CD, is also expected to run.