The Daily Brew: Politicians who’ve been on the silver screen

Welcome to the Friday, March 12, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Politicians who were actors or musicians
  2. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is 5th senator to announce 2022 retirement
  3. More than 70 people vying to be the next lieutenant governor of Rhode Island

Politicians who were actors or musicians

In February, before this year’s Super Bowl, we shared a list of political figures who had played in the big game. With the GRAMMY Awards presentation this weekend and the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees on Monday, I thought we’d look at some candidates and officeholders who were also actors and musicians.

We sent our staff hunting the web to see what they could dig up. 

  • Our list includes 12 current and former officeholders who acted in TV shows or movies—two presidents, two U.S. senators, three U.S. representatives, two governors, and three local officials. 
    • Those officeholders come from eight states, with four from California and two from Minnesota. Among them are six Republicans, three Democrats, one Reform Party member, and two who were nonpartisan.
  • We also identified eight unsuccessful candidates for office who were also actors—four from California, three from New York, and one from Michigan. Seven of them ran for U.S. House districts and one for governor of New York.
  • Two U.S. House members and three candidates are or were musicians, each from a different state

These lists aren’t exhaustive. We focused mainly on recent officeholders and candidates whom we have covered on Ballotpedia, though there are a few additional names on the list. We reviewed a variety of sources in putting these lists together, including Backstage, Business Insider, Billboard, Rolling Stone, and IMDb

From Fred Thompson and Cynthia Nixon to Sonny Bono and Clay Aiken, it’s a star-studded report.

Actors

Federal officeholders:

  • Ronald Reagan (R), the 40th president of the United States (1981-1989), was an actor known for his roles in The Killers (1964), The Hasty Heart (1949), and more. Reagan also served as governor of California from 1967-1975.
  • Donald Trump (R) was the 45th president of the United States (2017-2021) from New York and starred in the reality TV series The Apprentice. He also made cameo appearances in Home Alone 2 (1992), Two Weeks Notice (2002), and more. 
  • Al Franken was a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Minnesota (2009-2018). He wrote for and occasionally performed on Saturday Night Live. He was also in Stuart Saves His Family and Trading Places.
  • Fred Thompson, a former Republican member of the U.S. Senate from Tennessee (1994-2003), was in Law and Order, The Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, and Die Hard 2. 
  • Sean Duffy is a former Republican U.S. representative from Wisconsin‘s 7th Congressional District (2011-2019) and appeared in the reality TV series The Real World (1997). (Okay, not necessarily acting—but he was on TV!)
  • Fred Grandy, a former Republican U.S. representative from Iowa (1987–1995), was known for his roles in The Love Boat and Maude.
  • Ben Jones, a former Democratic U.S. representative from Georgia (1989–1993), was in The Dukes of Hazzard.

State executive officeholders:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) served as governor of California from 2003 to 2011. He was in many movies, including Predator (1987), the Terminator series, and The 6th Day (2000).
  • Jesse Ventura (Reform Party) was the governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. He appeared in Predator (1987).

Local officeholders:

  • Sheila Kuehl, a current member of the nonpartisan Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors who assumed office in 2014, was in The Stu Erwin Show (1950-1955) and The Bob Cummings Show (1955-1959).
  • Steven Quezada (D) is a member of the Bernalillo County Commission, representing District 2 in New Mexico. Quezada assumed office in 2017. He played roles in Breaking Bad (2008-2013) and Better Call Saul (2020).
  • Clint Eastwood was the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California (1986-1988). He has been in many films, including Gran Torino and Dirty Harry.

Actors who ran for office but were not elected:

  • Kimberlin Brown Pelzer (R) ran for U.S. House to represent California‘s 36th Congressional District in 2018. She appeared in The Young and the Restless (1973) and The Bold and the Beautiful (1987).
  • Melissa Gilbert was a 2016 Democratic candidate for U.S. House to represent the 8th Congressional District of Michigan. She was known for her role in Little House on the Prairie (1974).
  • J. G. Hertzler (independent) ran for U.S. House to represent New York‘s 23rd Congressional District in 2018 and was known for his roles in Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993), and Prelude to Axanar (2014).
  • Chris Mitchum was a 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. House to represent the 24th Congressional District of California, known for Summertime Killer (1972) and Rio Lobo (1970).
  • Diane Neal (independent) ran for U.S. House to represent New York‘s 19th Congressional District in 2018. She appeared in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001-2012) and NCIS (2010-2014).
  • Antonio Sabato Jr. (R) ran for U.S. House to represent California‘s 26th Congressional District in 2018. He was known for roles in The Big Hit (1998), Shark Hunter (2001), and General Hospital (1963). 
  • Stacey Dash (R) ran for U.S. House to represent California‘s 44th Congressional District in 2018 and was known for her role in Clueless (1995). 
  • Cynthia Nixon ran in the Democratic primary for governor of New York and for election to the New York State Assembly as the Working Families Party candidate in 2018. Her most recognizable role is from Sex and the City (1998-2004).

Musicians 

Officeholders

  • Sonny Bono, of the duo Sonny & Cher, (R) was a U.S. representative from California (1995-1998).
  • John Hall (D) of the band Orleans was a U.S. representative from New York (2007-2010).

Musicians who ran for office but were not elected:

  • Kanye West is a music producer and rapper who ran for president of the United States as an independent in 2020. He lives in Wyoming.
  • Clay Aiken was a 2014 Democratic candidate for U.S. House to represent the 2nd Congressional District of North Carolina. He came in second place on American Idol in 2003.
  • Richard “Kinky” Friedman was a Democratic candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the 2014 elections. He previously ran for governor in 2006 as an independent.

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is 5th senator to announce 2022 retirement

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced on March 8 that he won’t seek re-election in 2022. Blunt was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and won re-election in 2016 against Jason Kander (D), 49% to 46%.

Blunt is the fifth U.S. senator to announce that he will not run for re-election in 2022, joining Republicans Richard Burr (N.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Penn.), and Richard Shelby (Ala.). 

Four U.S. senators—three Republicans and one Democrat—did not run for re-election in 2020. Three Republican senators did not run for re-election in 2018.

The chart below shows how many months before the November general election senators have announced their retirement during the current and previous two election cycles. The chart begins with the October of the previous cycle, or two years before the general election. For example, a retirement announcement in Jan. 2021 would be 22 months before the Nov. 2022 election. Sen. Burr announced in July 2016 that he wouldn’t run for another term in 2022. For the purposes of this chart, he’s included in the earliest possible month—Month 25 for the 2022 cycle.

All senators who retired in the 2020 cycle announced their decisions by May 2019 (-18 in the chart above). All senators who retired in the 2018 cycle announced by January of that year (-10 above). 

Thirty-four U.S. Senate seats are up for election next year. Republicans currently hold 20 of those seats, and Democrats hold 14.

The Senate is split 50-50, with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has the tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats effective control of the chamber.

Read on

More than 70 people vying to be the next lieutenant governor of Rhode Island

Daniel McKee (D) was sworn in as governor of Rhode Island on March 2. The previous incumbent, Gina Raimondo (D), resigned after she was confirmed as the U.S. secretary of commerce in the Biden administration. McKee was Raimondo’s lieutenant governor.

Under the Rhode Island Constitution, if the incumbent governor resigns, the lieutenant governor fills the office until the next election. Neither the constitution nor state law prescribes how the lieutenant governor’s office is filled if the incumbent resigns. In 1997, when Lt. Gov. Robert Weygand resigned, Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed his replacement. McKee referred to that event when saying that he, as governor, would select the next lieutenant governor.

According to WPRI-TV, more than 75 people have applied, including several state legislators. State Sen. Louis DiPalma (D) and state Reps. Robert Phillips (D), Grace Diaz (D), and Anastasia Williams (D) are among the candidates seeking the position. Several former lawmakers have applied as well.

The initial application deadline—Feb. 2—was extended indefinitely, but The Boston Globe reported that McKee is expected to choose his successor sometime in the next few weeks. The Rhode Island state Senate must confirm McKee’s choice. 

The lieutenant governor is the second-ranking executive official in Rhode Island and the first in line to succeed the governor. The lieutenant governor’s duties include emergency management, intergovernmental relations, and making appointments to boards and commissions. 

Forty-five states have a lieutenant governor. In Hawaii, the lieutenant governor also serves as the secretary of state. In Tennessee and West Virginia, the president of the Senate also serves as lieutenant governor and is elected from within the legislature. The five states without the office are Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Read on 




About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.