Thursday, November 9, 2006

First Look at '08: Schilling for Senate?

schillingOver the next week or so I'm going start looking ahead at the next big election, and I figured I'd start at the bottom. The state's Republican party is in such shambles it would be fair to ask: Can they find a viable candidate to run for Senate in two years?

I can only think of one really good option for them: Curt Schilling. What do we know about Schilling that would make him a viable candidate?

  1. He is a Republican. After helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004, he spent the week between the end of the Series and election day campaigning for President Bush in TV appearances and on the stump. Would his support of the president be a liability? Probably not...there were still a lot of people who supported the president in 2004.

  2. He will be available. His contract with the Red Sox ends at the end of the 2007 season. That would give him five months or so until the primary (it's early in 2008 because of the presidential race), and a little over a year to the general election. He wouldn't have to worry about the primary at all--the minute he announced his candidacy the decks would be clear--and he'd be left with plenty of time to run a general election campaign. In fact, he could get a head start since the Democratic primary could be hotly contested.

  3. 0621sockHe brings instant name recognition and popularity. Everyone in Massachusetts knows who Curt Schilling is, and they probably have a generally positive view of him. The old joke is that a member of the 2004 Red Sox will never have to buy a drink in Massachusetts. That level of built in support would go a long way. Instead of volunteers running around in orange jumpsuits, he'll have his supporters wearing "bloody socks." In a strange way, that would be endearing.

  4. He will have no problem raising money. See number 3. Not only does he have quite a bit of his own money if he needed to tap into it, but he would be able to raise lots of money in both Massachusetts and across the country based on his star power alone. And don't think that national Republicans will forget his support of Bush. He'd instantly have as much money to run as he needs.

  5. He can campaign as a true outsider. Because he won't have a voting record on issues, he will be able to define himself. If I had to guess, I'd imagine him as a strong-defense, low-tax, social libertarian...the only type of Republican that could be successful in Massachusetts. But even if he's not, he'll have the ability to let voters know who he is, and not have to worry about having a trail of votes that can be twisted and used against him.

  6. He can campaign as a local businessman. Just last week, the Boston Business Journal reported that Schilling had rented space in Maynard to house his start-up video game business. Schilling will be able to say that he has "created jobs in Massachusetts," that he "understands the needs of small business," etc. etc.

  7. He has a TV presence. Not every athlete is comfortable with the cameras, but Schilling certainly is. In fact, some of us who follow the Red Sox think he's too much of a publicity hog: always on TV, calls WEEI to vent about this or that issue, frequents internet message boards (I'm one of those who wishes he'd just shut up and pitch). In any event, he is a skilled commentator and would be a media darling.

  8. schilling 2There is no one else. Quick, name a Massachusetts Republican. Mitt Romney's running for president, so he's out. Kerry Healey? Her only chance would be if Deval Patrick failed miserably right out of the gate and people began wondering if she weren't so bad after all. Paul Cellucci might be a possibility I suppose, but his ties to President Bush are so strong that he might have difficulty here, not to mention that he saddled us with two years of Jane Swift (uh, no). Wayne Budd was Deval Patrick before Deval Patrick. Former Suffolk County DA Ralph Martin, perhaps? Do any of those names inspire you?
All of this speculation is based on one huge assumption: John Kerry will run for President and the seat will be an open seat. If Kerry stays on, I'd guess that he will not face any real opposition. But if he goes, there will be a huge fight for the first senate opening in 24 years. I wouldn't be surprised if Curt Schilling is part of the mix.

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