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Monday, April 10, 2000

Ex-NFL star Francis
will oppose Mink

By Suzanne Tswei


Calling U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink "a professional politician," former professional football star Russ Francis said he will run for her seat in the upcoming election.

"I am not a professional politician, but I make no apologies for it," Francis said yesterday before about 150 supporters and Republican party officials at Aikahi Elementary School. He will name his campaign manager in a week.

Acknowledging it will be "a tough race" against Mink, who has been in political offices since 1956, Francis said he is offering "bold, new, energetic leadership" to build a better future and economic opportunities in the islands.

"It's time for a change," he said. "I believe that the professional, career politicians who are representing us in Washington have set us on the wrong track."

Francis said he would hold government accountable, reform education and free businesses of unnecessary regulations and taxes. Describing himself as a successful small-businessman and a former professional athlete accustomed to competition, Francis said he will devote "110 percent and no less" to winning the 2nd Congressional District seat, for rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

Francis was born in Seattle in 1953 but moved to the islands soon after. A Kailua High School standout, he played in the NFL for 14 years with the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. He has also worked as a radio and television broadcaster, and as sports coordinator and promoter for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

He ran for political office for the first time in 1998, losing to City Councilman Andy Mirikitani.

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