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GOP would like Young in its line-up

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PHILADELPHIA — Republicans would like to recruit retired San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young to a new arena: politics.

Young, who gave the invocation Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, would bring a mix of name recognition, intelligence, media savvy and morality to public office, they say.

Some delegates and party officials are so enthusiastic, their only question is not which office, but which state: Young, a native of Connecticut who went to college in Utah, has homes in the San Francisco Bay area and in Provo, Utah.

"He certainly has the opportunity to pursue either federal or state office in either state," said Ron Fox, a delegate from North Salt Lake and executive director of George W. Bush's campaign in Utah. "I kind of see this as Steve Young's coming-out party within the Republican Party."

Young, 38, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, retired from the 49ers in June.

Young hasn't spoken publicly on his plans, including a potential political career, and declined to comment Wednesday. He was invited to the convention by Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Leavitt, who knows Young well, said that so far Young's political activity has been limited to helping friends.

"He's maintained a fairly nonpartisan approach to his involvement until now," Leavitt said.

But he agreed with others from the Utah contingent that Young could be successful in politics in Utah or California.

California Assemblyman Bruce Thompson said he has talked to fellow Republicans about Young running for governor of California.

The GOP is short on potential challengers to Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and needs someone with name recognition and money, said Thompson, a friend of Young's aunt and like Young, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But realistically, a governor's race would be "way too big" for Young, Thompson said. A congressional race in California or a campaign in Utah would be better, he said.

"He's a star in the area where Republicans are the weakest and that's the Bay area, and I don't know that you can get a lot of mileage once he leaves the Bay area," Thompson said. "I mean, the name recognition is going to be there, but Californians are very wise. They'll stop and they'll say, 'Who is this guy really?' "

California Secretary of State Bill Jones said he would like Young to seek statewide office. He's "obviously an outstanding individual in the sports area, and as far as I know he is a fine individual personally and professionally," Jones said.

Doris Dingle, a delegate and homemaker from Fresno, Calif., is reserving judgment until she knows more about Young's political views.

"I mean I think he's a nice guy, I respect him and I think he has good moral values and things like that, but there's a lot more to it in politics," she said. Dingle, a party activist. "There's a lot of heavy-duty things that they're responsible for."