Effort to Draft Tommy Lee Jones is "Absolutely Serious"

A screenshot of the Tommy Lee Jones for Senate website.
A screenshot of the Tommy Lee Jones for Senate website.

In recent weeks, an idea of Houston attorney Geoff Berg's turned into a Facebook page and then became a website that he hopes might spark a movement. The message: "Draft Tommy Lee Jones for Senate."

Berg, a left-leaning commentator and host of the radio show Partisan Gridlock on KPFT, says he is "absolutely serious."

"I can't think of another Democrat in Texas," Berg says, "that has the necessary name ID, that has positive name ID, that would be able to raise money, and that would have at least the potential to attract string voters and a substantial number of Republicans."

Berg says he would "love" to see former Comptroller John Sharp or former U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The only problem, he says, "neither one of them can win, and I'm certain they know that."

So which Texas Democrat has a legitimate shot? He's banking on Jones, Al Gore's college roommate and the Academy Award-winning star of such films as The Fugitive, Men in Black, Men in Black II and No Country for Old Men.

Assuming Berg's right, does that say more about Jones or the state of the Democratic Party? "It probably says a lot about both," Berg says, "and it also says a lot about the state of our politics."

So far, Berg does not believe the Republican field for 2012 is particularly inspiring either — but "whatever right-wing extremist they nominate is going to waltz right in if the Democrats don't have a credible candidate."

A legitimate Democratic star could change that, he believes. Think of it this way: the three-plus minute YouTube video former Republican Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert released after jumping in the race doesn't hold a candle to Jones' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

To make this point, Berg recently released a YouTube video of his own:

Berg says that since he first publicized his push for Jones, he has received positive feedback from many active Democratic players in Houston. He has not, however, heard from the man himself. Jones' publicist did not respond to an e-mail this week from the Tribune.

Berg insists he'll continue making the case for Jones until an equally or more plausible candidate steps forward, though he isn't holding out hope. "There is no one," he says.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.