Curt Schilling Says No to Senate Run: Too Bad, He'd Have Been Fun To Watch

Ben CarderCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 14:  (L-R) Curt Schilling, Shonda Schilling stand by as republican presidential candidate John McCain waves to fans with his wife Cindy McCain before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 14, 2008 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

After several weeks of speculation and “Will he? or Won’t he?” interviews, founder made it official on HBO’s Joe Buck Live this week: No senate run for Schilling.

Before Schilling made his no-run decision final, he made it clear to Boston radio listeners that if he were in, he was in to win.  He wouldn’t be cowed by pol prognosticators who thought he had no shot. 

The only thing that could prevent him was his family.  And in the end, the time in which his run would take him away from his family was the deciding factor.

“I can’t commit the time,” said Schilling to WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan on Thursday morning.  “If I wasn’t going to be able to be ‘all-in’ from a commitment stand point, then there was absolutely no way I was going to do it.  Maybe it’s naïve or ignorance, whatever you want to call it, but I was going in thinking I could actually win this thing and what that would mean. 

"But in the end, I don’t think that would have made my marriage and my relationship with my children better.”

According to Schilling, there was so much financial support for him to run, he wouldn’t have had to commit any of his own money.  But that’s not to suggest he didn’t have a fair share of detractors.

Schilling is not exactly Mr. Popularity among his peers or those that covered him.  He was once listed fourth on GQ magazine’s “Ten Most Hated Athletes” list, and Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy once called him “the big blow hard.”

“He’s somebody who’s always positioning himself in terms of what’s best for Curt Schilling,” said ESPN’s Pedro Gomez to GQ.  “He’s the consummate table for one.”

In other words, no one’s agnostic about Curt.  He’s a love him or hate him type of guy.  A guy who calls it likes he sees it, take it or leave it.  And it’s this shtick—the “Schilling Shtick”—that would have made the next few months better than theater for political junkies.

Bathed in blue, that hasn’t had a Republican senator since Edward Brooke beat Endicott Peabody in 1966, Massachusetts and the conservative Schilling were like oil and water.  Certainly cynics of Schilling’s run pointed to this “fact” as justification for calling his run for senate nothing more than a circus. 

But the track record of success for former athletes-turned-politicians is quite good...even in states where the athlete’s party affiliation is contrary to his or her own. 

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, became governor of a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1988.  Olympian Ben Nighthorse Campbell served three terms as a Democratic senator from the more-often-than-not red state of Colorado (Colorado has voted Democrat in presidential elections three times since 1964). 

And former Washington Redskins QB Heath Schuler currently serves as a Democratic congressman in the Republican bastion of North Carolina.

Besides his ability to actually win in January, Schilling has shown an ability to actually get things done, something every voter wants from his or her elected rep. 

He brought a World Series championship to Arizona, was instrumental in the Red Sox’ first title in 86 years, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity organizations (particularly for diseases like ALS), and helped bring some much needed campaign donations for John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004. 

While Schilling’s ability as an actual candidate is debatable, his “no go” for the senate is a crying shame for politicos and armchair pundits:  They won’t be able to break down Schilling’s brash, no-nonsense style that would surely have been on display in debates. 

The thought of Schilling duking it out with the likes of longtime Democratic pols Martha Coakley or Michael Capuano would have made his dust-ups with Shaughnessy seem like harmless banter (Schilling likes to refer to Shaughnessy as his “Curly-haired boyfriend” or CHB for short).

But who knows?  Perhaps Schilling will enter the political fray in future years when his kids are older.  Or perhaps he’ll give it a go when he’s not so tied down with his charity and IP company, 38 Studios. 

As fun as he was to watch on the pitchers mound, Schilling would have been a joy to watch on the senate floor. 

Hey, there’s always next election.