Carl Edwards is trading in his helmet for a brief case? Political commentator and Columbia College professor Terry Smith predicts the recently retired NASCAR driver will challenge Claire McCaskill for the US Senate seat in Missouri. McCaskill’s post is up for election in 2018. And you thought you had heard it all this silly season.
“I believe firmly in the principles that the U.S. was founded upon. If I could help, I definitely would consider it.” So, Edwards has left the door open. Carl Edwards told the Associated Press he has no plans to run at the moment, but quoted Gen. Douglas MacAurthur, “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” Pulling that quote to make a point? Very eloquent.
The idea isn’t crazy as it seems. After all, Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, JC Watts, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Bunning and Jesse “The Body” Ventura all made successful runs for office after gaining fame in the arena of competition. Think about it: Kemp- the former Buffalo Bills quarterback- could have become Vice-President. All served with varying degrees of distinction. Heck, if actors and real estate moguls can do it, why not Carl Edwards?
If he did, Edwards wouldn’t be the first NASCAR figure to try. Remember when Richard Petty ran for North Carolina Secretary of State in 1996? Now, Petty was 59 when he ran, and many would argue his lack of political savvy cost a shot at victory. Such an endeavor- especially for statewide or federal office- requires skill and a command of the issues one may tackle. I would have to imagine Carl Edwards knows he would have a considerable amount of homework before taking on the challenge.
Should he do it, Carl Edwards has a lot going for him. He’s young, he’s good looking, he’s articulate, and therefore comes off as sounding smart. Two things could keep him out. One, that privacy he treasures will go out the window. Every aspect of his life will be dug into. That also means Edwards should expect his opposition will use some of his “NASCAR incidents” against him. Run ins with Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick would no doubt be used to portray Edwards as a hothead. Because of his well-sculpted appearance, there has been (unfounded) rumors of PED and “roid rage.” It doesn’t matter if such rumors are bald face lies. Politics is blood sport, and his opponents will try to make it stick. At least on the political front, there is no known record of Edwards saying anything outrageous.
One thing’s for sure, if he did it, Carl Edwards would be one of the more colorful characters to grace the halls of Congress. Some have said politicians should wear suits with corporate logos on them like NASCAR drivers do to reveal their contributors. He’d be used to it. He could forego having a driver to negotiate those death-defying drives through the beltway traffic jams.
Will he actually do it? I know this: if I lived in Missouri, I’d give him a serious look. There is a short list of NASCAR figures past and present that one could see pursuing elective office, and Carl Edwards would be on that list.
Crazier things have happened, have they not?