By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael said he revised his congressional campaign biography to clarify his role on the USA Volleyball Team in 1987, but dismissed the episode as “petty politics” over an issue from 25 years ago.
“Frankly, this is silly stuff,” said Huffman, the Democratic nominee for Congress representing the North Coast and likely winner in November’s runoff against Republican Dan Roberts.
The Hotline on Call column in the weekly political magazine National Journal last month challenged Huffman’s biography for saying he was a member of the “World Champion USA Volleyball Team in 1987,” a claim the column described as “misleading information.”
Huffman, a former environmental attorney, said he could defend the original reference to his volleyball experience but opted to amend it because “this is a footnote in my biography that is not worth fighting about.”
Huffman immediately issued a press release stating that he trained and competed with the USA team for seven months in 1987 following its victory in the world championship tournament in the fall of 1986.
The team, during his stint, “was indeed the reigning world champion” and was introduced as such to widespread audiences, Huffman’s release said.
Huffman said the National Journal contacted his campaign in August, asserting that the biography “was an attempt to mislead people into thinking he had played in the 1986 world championship.”
In an interview Thursday, Huffman said his initial reference was “perfectly accurate,” but he amended it to “remove any ambiguity.”
The biography now says Huffman “was a member of the USA Volleyball Team in 1987 when the team was ranked #1 in the world.”
Huffman, who attended UC Santa Barbara on a volleyball scholarship, “graduated magna cum laude and was a three-time NCAA All-American volleyball player,” the biography says.
Huffman forwarded an email from Marv Dunphy, coach of the 1987 U.S. volleyball team, attesting to his team membership and adding: “I have great respect for you and our friendship.”
Another email included a photo of the 1987 team, which included volleyball great Karch Kiraly, who recently was named head coach of the U.S. women’s national volleyball team.
“The only scandal involving my brief time with the USA Volleyball Team was the embarrassingly short shorts we wore, and my cheesy 1987 haircut,” Huffman said.
Huffman led the June primary for the North Coast congressional seat with 37.5 percent of the vote, and is favored to beat Roberts, who finished second with 15 percent, in a district where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1.