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Valley political expert: Curt Schilling could be formidable candidate

Curt Schilling poses with Breitbart News founder Stephen Bannon on April 27, 2016, before Bannon's tenure in the Trump administration.

PHOENIX — U.S. House Democrats from Arizona should be worried about the possibility of stepping into the electoral batter’s box against former Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling, according to one Valley political expert.

“If I were a Democrat in Arizona, I would not want to face him, no matter what my district looked like,” Stan Barnes, president of Phoenix’s Copper State Consulting Group and a former state lawmaker, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Tuesday.

Barnes isn’t alone in liking Schilling’s chances. Two days after Schilling revealed Sunday on Armed American Radio that he was “absolutely considering” a run against a Democratic House member in Arizona, President Donald Trump tweeted that it was a “Terrific!” idea.

Barnes said the Diamondbacks’ co-MVP of their 2001 World Series championship could be a strong Republican candidate in the current political climate.

“This is the era of Arizona and American politics when a guy like this can do something like that,” Barnes said. “After all, he’s got name ID, he’s got money, he’s got likeability, connects with people.”

Democrats hold five of Arizona’s nine House seats. Barnes said Schilling’s best chance would be to challenge either Reps. Greg Stanton, Ann Kirkpatrick or Tom O’Halleran.

“Those are the three,” he said. “It would not be the dominant Hispanic districts like Ruben Gallego’s district or Raul Grijalva’s district.”

Armed American Radio host Mark Waters was discussing the 2nd Congressional District, the southeastern Arizona seat held by Kirkpatrick, when Schilling brought up the possibility of running.

“I’m considering going back to Arizona and running for a congressional seat, one of the blue ones,” Schilling said.

Schilling didn’t specify a target, but he’s been actively promoting Brandon Martin, a Republican candidate in Kirkpatrick’s district.

In 2018, Kirkpatrick won the seat Republican Sen. Martha McSally vacated to make an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Despite losing the election, McSally was later appointed to the seat formerly held by late Sen. John McCain.

Schilling previously considered a 2018 run against Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, but he told Waters he decided against putting his family through a campaign at that time.

But he said he’s been talking about a run in Arizona with his wife, “and she’s now becoming more and more comfortable.”

“We’re still quite a few discussions away, but, yeah, it’s something that we’re absolutely considering,” he continued.

Schilling attended Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix and Yavapai College in Prescott before becoming one of the most dominant postseason pitchers in major league history and winning three World Series championships, one with the Diamondbacks and two with the Boston Red Sox.

In 2016, ESPN fired him from his gig as a baseball analyst after he shared a meme about transgender bathroom policies that the network considered offensive and unacceptable. He went on to work for the conservative Breitbart News.

Despite a 20-year major league career that included six All-Star selections, 216 wins and 3,116 strikeouts, Schilling hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Schilling and others have speculated that his outspoken, and some say insensitive, espousal of conservative views has kept him out of Cooperstown.

The president has Schilling’s back on that matter, too, tweeting before this year’s vote that the right-hander deserved enshrinement.

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