CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Former Bengal Anthony Munoz owns three NFL offensive lineman of the year awards, and now he's going to try to open holes in the OH-02 GOP primary that will give Phil Heimlich some running room. Heimlich landed the Latino sports star's support despite Heimlich's firm opposition to any easing of immigration laws for Hispanics who settled in the United States illegally. Munoz was born in Ontario, Cal., in 1958.
Heimlich is seeking to wrest the party's nomination from U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt next March. Munoz, who is an extremely popular figure in the Cincinnati area where he lives, has signed on to back Heimlich and will headline a fundraiser next month.
Munoz is in the NFL Hall of Fame and played for the Bengals from 1980 until his retirement in 1992. He made the Pro-Bowl 11 times during his 12-year career. After football, he started a charitable foundation that has become one of the most important organizations working with young people in Southwest Ohio. He has also dabbled in Republican politics, and served as a local leader in the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. His alignment with Heimlich -- who is challenging a sitting member of Congress -- is a blow to Schmidt and a sign that she may have difficulty holding the allegiance of the area's top Republicans.
Munoz is Hispanic and played college ball at the University of Southern California in his native state. Heimlich got the NFL great's support even though he's no fan of legislation that would transition some of the Latino residents who immigrated illegally to U.S citizenship. Heimlich says:
"Illegal immigration is an issue of national security. Certainly, most immigrants moving illegally into the U.S. are not terrorists and are not consciously seeking to harm our nation. But our current policies allow those who seek to harm our nation to simply walk onto our soil, undetected and unaccounted for.
"I oppose granting amnesty, or creating an easy 'pathway to citizenship' for those who have come here illegally. To do so makes a mockery of our laws, and disrespects every immigrant who has come to America legally."