Basketball's Kevin Johnson became mayor of Sacramento, Calif., while Heath Shuler and Sam Wyche scored victories that had little to do with football Tuesday on a night when more than a dozen sports figures ran for office.
Joe Mesi, once one of boxing's top heavyweights, had a rough time in the political ring, losing a bid for a legislative seat in New York.
Craig Robinson wasn't listed on any ballot, but the first-year Oregon State basketball coach could soon be a frequent White House visitor. Robinson was in Chicago to watch election results with his family, which includes brother-in-law and President-elect Barack Obama.
Johnson, a former All-Star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, is the first black mayor of Sacramento. The 42-year-old Democrat with conservative social views defeated two-term incumbent Heather Fargo in a run-off election.
"Sacramento also made history today in electing its first black mayor," Johnson said. "Both Obama and myself, we ran on a promise and the theme of change. No more business as usual."
Johnson put some flash into his campaign with the backing of basketball royalty Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley. He wants to raise the profile of his hometown and bemoans his city's image beside that of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"We should be a destination place," he said leading into the election.
Shuler, a Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tennessee who played quarterback for the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints, won in his first bid for re-election to Congress.
Shuler is a North Carolina Democrat whose district is in the state's western mountains. He defeated Carl Mumpower, who had irritated local Republican officials by saying he would support efforts to impeach President Bush.
"I did what I said I would do, and I think the people saw that," Shuler said.
Wyche coached in the NFL with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay and made it to the Super Bowl with the Bengals after the 1988 season. He ran as a Republican and commandingly won a seat on the Pickens County Council in South Carolina, an area that includes Clemson University. Wyche, once a quarterback at nearby Furman, promised better roads and schools and more jobs.
Mesi has a 36-0 record as a fighter and once had to stop fighting for two years because of bleeding in his brain. The Democrat had the support of Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano in his attempt to win a state Senate seat but lost to Republican Michael Ranzenhofer.
Joining Shuler in re-election to the House was Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana, a former Furman basketball player. He defeated former Rep. Mike Sodrel, a Republican and trucking company owner. The two have faced off in four consecutive elections.