Politics

Former New England Patriots defensive end Jake Bequette launches U.S. Senate primary campaign against GOP incumbent

"I'm no squish career politician."

Coach Bill Belichick gives some pointers to Jake Bequette during a Patriots practice in 2012. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Hershel Walker isn’t the only former NFL player looking at a U.S. Senate seat.

Jake Bequette, a former New England Patriots defensive end, announced a 2022 primary campaign Monday morning against fellow Republican and incumbent Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, touting his experience playing with Tom Brady and characterizing himself as a “God-fearing Christian conservative who is 100 percent pro-life and pro-police.”

“I’m no squish career politician,” Bequette said in his announcement video.

After playing four seasons of college football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Little Rock native was picked by the Patriots in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He went on to appear in eight games over two seasons in New England.

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Bequette, who is now 32, was also a member of the Patriots practice squad during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2014. Though he played in no games that year, Bequette was on the sidelines during the Patriots’ trophy-clinching win over the Seattle Seahawks and ultimately received a Super Bowl ring.

“There’s no politically correct way to sack a quarterback,” Bequette, who amassed zero regular season sacks or tackles in the NFL, said in the video, which notes that he “played with Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl.”

“It’s just gold hard truth for everyone to see,” he added.

During the 2015 offseason, Bequette switched to the tight end position, but was released by the Patriots before the new season began. Later that year, he joined the Army and was deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, according to his campaign website. This past winter, he launched a COVID-19 relief fund that “raised over $100,000 and distributed 35 grants to aid small businesses” in Arkansas.

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Bequette is the fourth Republican candidate to enter the state’s 2022 Senate race, positioning himself as a loyalist to former president Donald Trump.

Boozman, a two-term conservative Republican, received Trump’s support after announcing plans to run for a third term in March and voted in line with the former president’s position over 90 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

However, the senator was not among the nearly 150 Republican members of the House and Senate who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election, after a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

In his announcement video Monday, Bequette said he’s “sick and tired of politicians who only stand up for President Trump when they stand to benefit.” While labeling the Democratic Party as “radical socialists,” Bequette also said that “too many Republicans just go along to get along.”

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“Now more than ever, we have to stand up and fight for what we believe,” he said.

In recent months, he has appeared on Fox News to criticize fellow athletes over culture war issues, such as criticizing the police or protests during athletic events. After announcing his campaign Monday, Bequette went on the cable channel to additionally opine that Olympic athletes who do not stand for the national anthem “shouldn’t be a part of the team.”

If not the First Amendment, his campaign website does say that Bequette is a “staunch” Second Amendment supporter and gun owner, as well as a supporter of term limits, tougher stances on China, tax cuts, and less public spending.

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“The left is going to spend every dollar they can print to remake this country,” Bequette said in his announcement video.

“Some will say that a young football-playing Army veteran isn’t qualified to stop them, or maybe they’ll say, it’s not my turn,” he said. “But here’s what I say: Just see if you can block me.”

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