It’s no longer a surprise when medical researchers-turned-DH’s like Mike Sweeney hold forth on the issues of the day. But as difficult as it can be to stare into the glassily concussed depths of Kurt Warner’s eyes while he says a bunch of bullshit about stem-cell research, at least he’s not asking you to vote for him. Two former NFL players — one a Hall of Famer, the other, uh, being Heath Shuler — made their decision to ask just that months ago, and are facing their reckonings at the voting booth in a couple of weeks. In a CSTB exclusive that is here because Gerard never explicitly told me I couldn’t write this, here is a report on how they’re doing.

Lynn Swann
is the Hall of Famer, and he is the Republican nominee for Governor in Pennsylvania, running against Pennyslvania political institution and former Democratic National Committee chairman Ed Rendell. For the first four months of Swann’s campaign, when he resolutely refused to discuss his position on any issue of greater depth than the need for quarterbacks to wear their fucking helmets when riding motorcycles, he ran even with, and occasionally even ahead of, Rendell. His sharply conservative views — on gun control, reproductive rights, privatizing education and bump-and-run coverage — did eventually come to light, though. He’s currently down by two touchdowns and a field goal, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll to Rendell. This despite netting $700,000 in an August campaign fundraiser by President Bush, before which “(Bush), sporting Bono-style shades, hopped on a Harley.” Or maybe because of it. Anyway, even John Stallworth has not endorsed Swannie in this one.

In North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District — previously the fiefdom of plutocrat-with-a-Liberian-dictator’s-name Charles Taylor — Democrat and 1993 Heisman runner-up Heath Shuler is on his way to unseating the seven-term Republican. Shuler is a conservative Democrat who is mainly distinguishable from Taylor by 1) having been a star high school quarterback in the district before playing at Tennessee and in four injury-marred, marginal to sub-marginal NFL seasons and 2) not having been a close and well-remunerated associate of Jack Abramoff, being in a shady deal with a Russian bank and facing a Congressional ethics investigation for allegations of bank fraud. Shuler has been running ahead of Taylor since August, and recent Zogby polls put him up 51% to 40% (Constituent Dynamics had the lead at 51% to 43%). Shuler has been endorsed by, among other people, Philip Fulmer (seriously) and Carl Pickens (probably, I guess).