Opinion: QB-turned-pol Heath Shuler throws his support to Hillary Clinton

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ABC’s George Stephanopoulos summed up the prevailing pundit opinion on “Good Morning America” today when he predicted that undeclared Democratic superdelegates would start flocking to Barack Obama. Yet the first party honcho to tip his after Tuesday’s primaries that boosted Obama signed up with ... Hillary Clinton.

A cynic might note that in announcing his support for Clinton, Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina was aping his ill-fated pro football career -- joining the roster of a losing team.

But after washing out as a quarterback in the mid-to-late ‘90s with the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders, Shuler succeeded as a politician by making clear to the constituents of the western tip of the Tar Heel state that although he was a Democrat, he shared their moderate-to-conservative opinions on most issues. That enabled him, in 2006, to knock off an eight-term Republican incumbent.

In endorsing Clinton, Shuler was hewing to the views of those who sent him to Washington. Although Clinton lost North Carolina to Obama by 14 percentage points, the results in Shuler’s district were almost exactly the reverse: she won by 13 points.

He had said he would back the candidate who carried his home turf, and so he had, a spokesman for Shuler announced.


-- Don Frederick