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Morning Briefing

Wow! He is going back as a winner

November 09, 2006|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

Headlines in and around Washington on Wednesday reported that Heath Shuler had won a big one, something that was never said during Shuler's first term in Washington as a lame/wounded-duck quarterback for the Redskins.

Shuler, 4-13 in 17 games with the Redskins from 1994 to 1996, is headed back to the nation's capital, this time in triumph, after defeating 11th District Republican incumbent Charles Taylor in a North Carolina House race.

Those closely monitoring the campaign were, of course, eager to see how the website StopShuler.comdealt with the news.

"Shuler not stopped," read the headline on the site, which satirically opposed Shuler's campaign by urging voters not to "let Heath Shuler anywhere near Washington or the Redskins."

Jason Woodmansee, a Redskins fan living in San Diego, writes that he created the site: "We thought, 'Wouldn't it be funny to oppose his bid, purely on football reasons?' We think the conclusion, after all of this, is yes. Yes it was."

Woodmansee wrapped up his personal campaign this way:

"We did this for the cause of comedy. No higher ideals, no politics, nothing very noble. Technically, we are not residents of DC [we prefer sunny San Diego these days]. Technically, we are Democrats. Even more technically, we are more liberal than Heath Shuler. And while we're dealing in technicalities, our family wants us back."

Trivia time

In 2004, ESPN.com ranked Shuler the 17th-biggest sports flop of the last 25 years. Who was No. 1?

Cubs win! Kind of

A loser with even a longer record of failure than Shuler turned out to be a winner, of sorts, during Tuesday's elections.

The Chicago Cubs.

Illinois governor and devoted Cubs fan, Rod Blagojevich, held off the challenge of Republican Judy Baar Topinka after Topinka was linked to the worst kind of political scandal you can have in that state: She ripped the Cubs.

On Sunday, Topinka accused Blagojevich of spending more time at Wrigley Field than in the legislature.

"Maybe he ought to run for manager of the Cubs," Topinka said. "They're a bunch of losers too, and need some help."

Cubs fans across the state rallied around Blagojevich, who told reporters in Chicago on the eve of the election, "She can keep calling me names -- she does it nearly every day. But I think when she calls the Cubs names, it's throwing a pitch at somebody's head."

This week's Chicago sports scorecard reads:

Bears lose Sunday; Baar loses Tuesday.

Swann dive

Riding the momentum of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2-6 start, Republican Lynn Swann lost the Pennsylvania governor's race to Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell in a rout, collecting only 40% of the vote to Rendell's 60%.

It was the biggest margin of defeat Swann had suffered since a 34-7 Steelers loss to Cincinnati in 1981.

Swann's Super Bowl rings and Hall of Fame career did him little good. Ronique Godwin of Philadelphia, who attended Rendell's victory celebration, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Nobody really knows him. If I was not a football fan, I would not have known him."

The Allen family playbook

When Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) blew a 16-point lead in the polls and Democratic challenger James Webb claimed victory in a race that still was undecided Wednesday, old Los Angeles Rams fans were reminded of how Allen's father, George Sr., handled a campaign of a different kind in 1969.

First, Allen's Rams blew an 11-0 start and finished 11-3, squandering home-field advantage to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round playoff game, There, Allen and his team blew a 10-point halftime lead and were bounced by Bud Grant's Vikings, 23-20.

Trivia answer

Fellow NFL quarterback bust Ryan Leaf.

And finally

Charles Barkley, still musing about his much-threatened plan to run for governor of Alabama, told Conan O'Brien, "It's not like I can screw up Alabama. Our slogan is, 'At least we're not Arkansas and Mississippi.' "

mike.penner@latimes.com

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