Outgoing Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams announced today that Gen. Tommy Franks, former commander of U.S. Central Command, has endorsed his 2012 U.S. Senate bid and signed on to serve as the campaign's national chairman.

"I have no special interest in Texas politics," said Franks, a graduate of the same Midland high school as Laura Bush and of the University of Texas at Arlington who now lives on a ranch in Oklahoma raising Angus cattle and growing wheat. He told the Tribune in an interview, "What I have an interest in is this particular man at this particular time in American history. I think he's special and, candidly, will be very surprised if Texas doesn't think he's special in the upcoming election."

Though they both grew up in the Midland area, Franks said he has only personally known Williams, who is nearly a decade younger (though Franks says he "will try not to hold his comparative youth against him"), for less than a year. In that time, Franks, who says he isn't in the habit of handing out political endorsements, says he has developed a fondness for Williams' positions on many issues "from Christianity to health care," as well as his "bright and thoughtful" personality.

"I've spent a lot of my time in D.C. and other places looking at politicians, and this guy just happens to be right down my alley," said Franks, adding that he hopes his national standing can bring credibility to Williams' effort.

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