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New England Patriots player jumps into At-Large race – sort of

A political tidbit for a slow Friday:

On break from sacking quarterbacks, a New England Patriots player has written out a campaign donation to Tito Jackson, a Patrick administration official running for one of the four City Council At-Large seats. Le Kevin Smith, a Patriots defensive lineman, donated $500 earlier this month to Jackson’s campaign.

Jackson, who works in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, has raised $20,000 in the campaign as of mid-July. Jackson, a lifelong Dorchester resident, told the Reporter that he met Smith last year at a Back Bay restaurant and they became friends.

They both spoke on the importance of a high school education at Boston’s MATCH charter school last month.

“I think he’s an example that people do care about what happens on the local level,” Jackson said, adding, “It’s great to have someone, a friend, who is at large supporting me in my at-large bid.”

A North Attleborough resident and Georgia native, Smith went to school in Nebraska and was picked up by the Patriots in the 2006 draft. Smith also has an engineering degree.

While he may be the first player to donate money to a political campaign in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, he’s not the only member of the Patriots organization to do so. Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $5,000 to the state Republican Party in 2004 and 2006 before going bi-partisan and donating $500 to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008.

Other Patriots executives have donated to past candidates for governor, such as then-Attorney General Thomas Reilly, during the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.