Senator Phil Jackson?

From Ross Siler's blog:

During his year off, Jackson admitted that he had a dinner in which the most preliminary talk of a Senate run was discussed. Jackson owns a house on Flathead Lake in Montana and is a friend and former teammate of Bill Bradley, the former Democratic Senator from New Jersey and presidential candidate.

Jackson said Monday that he didn't think he would have won because he was viewed as a "native son" of North Dakota, where he played high school and college basketball, and not Montana. For the record, Jackson was born in Deer Lodge, Mont.

If he had run, Jackson might have wound up in one of the nation's most-watched races. The Democratic candidate, Jon Tester, has a chance of unseating Sen. Conrad Burns, who has been criticized for taking more money from the clients of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff than any other member of Congress. The Billings Gazette had the race in a dead heat over the weekend.

Jackson said he was interested in how the race would turn out. If you want to read more about his political beliefs, there was a great article in L.A. Weekly last summer.

Here's the money political quote from that fantastic L.A. Weekly piece by Alan Rifkin:

A group of friends had him pegged for a Senate seat in Montana, and Jackson thought about it, too, before deciding he wasn’t up to all the greeting and meeting. Moreover, his politics had shifted, or softened — whatever it is that makes your kids tease that you’ve gone conservative while you deny it, and your eyes light up at words like trade-off and balance. Jackson thinks Jimmy Carter was compassionate but ineffective, Clinton too far right to be properly called a Democrat, but the edge that strangely animates him nowadays runs toward some newish frontier mean — the radicalism of Compromise — although it’s hard to follow his vision along this frontier exactly, because his words are so measured and vague.

“I still think that I submit, apply and read,” he says, nearly losing me already, “all that’s on the left. And yet I really like the balancing act that we have to do in this country between the tradeoffs of business, big business, and private industry, and individual rights and big government and our decisions on how to assist and develop peace in the Middle East, versus how to fight terrorism in a war. You know, those really drive my interests a lot.”

It has also dawned on Jackson that the nation’s political choices have been flattened by a two-party lens. “You don’t know what you’re getting from either party, basically . . . You could get a person that’s for right to life or for choice in the Republican Party. In the Democratic Party, you could get a person that’s interested in minority rights, or people who are interested in all the other types of rights — the splinter groups that have taken the Democratic Party so far away from where it was 30 years ago. And you can get people who are for choice, and people who aren’t. I think we’ve engineered our government so much to our two-party system that we’ve lost the ability to appeal to people on the basis of a position that they want. Do they want social action, as a people of conscience and a people that’s going through a Depression need a guy like Roosevelt? Do we want militaristic concerns that are much more conservative [just] because we wanted to tighten things up in the government?”