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« Dems Close In On Control of NY State Senate | Blog Home Page | Johnson Up Huge In SD »

Well, If THAT Qualifies...

What, exactly, qualifies someone to be a member of Congress? A clear plurality of incumbent members are lawyers, though there are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, former CIA and FBI agents and an assortment of others, ordinary and bizarre (Tom DeLay was an exterminator). If it's education, the vast majority of members have college degrees, and the ones who don't are pretty smart anyway.

Former Mizzou football star Brock Olivo set the bar a little lower. "Not only was I football player, but I also was in social studies class, and I have a passion for how this country works," he told the AP. Olivo, who played for the Detroit Lions for four years before working for a foundation in Washington, is one of three top Republicans running to replace Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who is running for governor.

Olivo would not be the first former football player in Congress. Seattle Seahawk great Steve Largent served until 2002, when he resigned to make an unsuccessful bid for governor of his native state of Oklahoma. Democrat Heath Shuler, best known in Washington for throwing more than twice as many interceptions than he did touchdowns, most of which came with the Redskins, is now a member of Congress. Other sports stars have made it to Washington in recent years, including Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Senator, and track star Jim Ryun, who lost to Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda last year.

As over-qualified as Olivo might be, having aced social studies, he still has to face State Reps. Danie Moore and Bob Onder in Missouri's August 5 primary. The winner will face either State Rep. Judy Baker, House Speaker Steve Gaw or Marion County Commissioner Lyndon Bode, all of whom are running on the Democratic side.

The district, which had elected a Democrat for generations before Hulshof's 1996 victory, is mostly rural, comprising the northeastern corner of the state. President Bush won 55% there in 2000 and 59% in 2004, but with the right candidate, Democrats think they might actually be able to steal Hulshof's seat, even as he runs for governor and will look to run up big margins in his home area.