Celebrities That Became Politicians

The United States of America has felt anything but united in recent years, causing many public figures to step in and get more involved in trying to make a difference — socially and economically. Celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Kanye "Ye" West and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson have openly discussed a career in politics for some time, and many have followed through on their promises. Perhaps the biggest shock of stars becoming involved in politics was when West announced he was running for president!

At the time, Ye took to his Twitter to declare, "We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States #2020Vision." He eventually dropped out of the race – considering he announced four months before the election and apparently without having filed with the FEC! Clearly, not all celebrities are cut out for politics. Thankfully, there are some that remain true to their word in making a difference.

Donald Trump became POTUS

The businessman and former reality TV star, Donald Trump, became the 45th president of the United States, beating out his opponent Hilary Clinton, shocking the entire world. The Trump family is very well known for their work in New York real estate, and the hit reality television show, "The Apprentice." Some believed that his television career with "The Apprentice" paved the way for his political career.

In a chat with Vox, James Poniewozik, a TV critic for the New York Times, shared, "Trump is fundamentally a creature of TV. His whole public persona was shaped by TV and he cleverly used the medium, with shows like 'The Apprentice,' to propel his political career. He also knew exactly what TV media craves — spectacle, drama, and outrage — and capitalized on it throughout his presidential campaign."

Today, former President Trump is staying busy endorsing additional GOP candidates and battling some ongoing legal issues; while many are speculating if he will make a bid for the next election cycle (via Forbes).

Ben Savage is running for city council because of 'serious challenges ahead'

As of this writing, former child star Ben Savage (and little brother of Fred Savage from "The Wonder Years"), is running for city council in West Hollywood. Savage is best known for his role as Cory Matthews on "Boy Meets World," and has continued with a successful acting career well into adulthood.

Per Savage's campaign website, he felt compelled to run in West Hollywood due to hearing about people's frustration with political divisiveness and the loss of a sense of community, among many other things. He states on the site, "I am running for City Council because there are serious challenges ahead and West Hollywood deserves sensible, honest and strong leadership to face them ... We need new leaders with a fresh perspective who are ready to begin tackling these issues." 

For those in California that think Ben Savage doesn't have any political experience, think again! According to Rolling Stone, Savage was a political science major and actually interned for Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. "I was interested in government and structure," he told the magazine. Good Luck, Ben!

The pandemic fueled Dr. Oz to make a bid for US Senate

In 2021, after expressing his frustration with the current administration, Dr. Mehmet Oz decided to run for the open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Speaking with The New York Times, Dr. Oz has described his disappointment with the "arrogant, closed-minded people in charge" who shut down schools and businesses during the pandemic as the reason he wanted to run. 

Dr. Oz is best known for being America's favorite daytime television doctor with the hit series, "The Dr. Oz Show." He featured celebrity guests and discussed all angles of health from sleep to neurological disorders. Sony canceled the show once Oz made his bid for US Senate in Pennsylvania (via CNBC).

"Covid has shown us that our system is broken," Oz declared in his campaign ad. "We lost too many lives, too many jobs and too many opportunities because Washington got it wrong. They took away our freedom without making us safer, and tried to kill our spirit and our dignity."

Ex- NFL star Herschel Walker wants to be in the Senate

Herschel Walker, current US Senate candidate in Georgia, is an ex-NFL player and business owner.  Walker began his career as a running back at the University of Georgia, even winning the coveted Heisman Trophy in 1982. After being inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, Walker was later promoted to the NFL where he began playing for the Dallas Cowboys. In his football career, he also played for the  Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. Not a bad resume!

As of this writing, Walker hopes to win against current Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Throughout his 2022 campaign, Walker has focused on the troublesome and high gas prices, inflation and "excessive" government spending (via GPB).

At a 2022 rally in Atlanta, per NPR, Walker also commented that race should never matter when it comes to unity, "It don't matter about your color. A house divided cannot stand, so I want us to come together."

Actress Cynthia Nixon ran for governor

Cynthia Nixon, our beloved Miranda Hobbes from "Sex and the City," tried her hardest to become the Governor of New York State and has zero regrets. Nixon went up against political titan Andrew Cuomo, knowing her odds of winning would be slim. "I ran to win. I hoped to win. I did everything I could to make that a possibility," Nixon explained to Time. "But at the end of the day, I knew the most important thing about my running was to shed light on these issues."

These days, Andrew Cuomo is known as the disgraced ex-Governor of New York, who stepped down after multiple sexual harassment allegations were made against him, per AP. As for Nixon? Her career is flourishing. According to Vogue, she's starring in two hit shows on HBO, "And Just Like That" and "The Gilded Age," after taking a small break from acting after running for office. "I mean, a political campaign does take a lot out of you," she told Vogue in 2022. "And so I took some time to recover. That was very needed and very welcome."

We're over here anxiously waiting for the next season of "And Just Like That!"

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Former Comedian Al Franken was a senator

Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Al Franken, made a successful jump from "Stuart Smalley" to politics. For those of you who are unaware, Franken was best known on "SNL" for his beloved Stuart Smalley self-help character who always affirmed: "You are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggonit people like you!" He told People magazine, "I've got the wig and I've got the sweater. I just don't bring Stuart out. But he's getting exactly as old as I'm getting."

According to Britannica, after leaving "SNL" in the late 90's, he became an outspoken political voice for the Democratic Party, publishing a number of books and hosting a successful radio show, "The Al Franken Show" — a spoof of Bill O'Reilly's conservative show, "The O'Reilly Factor." 

The radio show came to end when Franken announced he was running for US Senate in Minnesota — and he won. Franken held his position in office successfully for a number of years; however after sexual harassment allegations surfaced in 2017, Franken did not feel supported by his party and eventually opted not to run (via CNBC).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Former Wrestler Jesse Ventura was Governor of Minnesota

Jesse "The Body" Ventura has quite the professional resume: he went from Navy Seal to pro-wrestler to actor, to broadcaster to mayor — eventually becoming the Governor of Minnesota. That is certainly a mouthful, but it's downright impressive!  As detailed by the National Governors Association, Ventura put a focus on education funding to decrease school class sizes, while also increasing more affordable living opportunities in Minnesota.

According to Britannica, Ventura rose to fame as a professional wrestler and stayed in the ring with a solid 11-year career, donning crazy leopard leotards and feathers. He then hit the big screen, starring in the 1987 hit film 'Predator.' After his departure as Governor, Jesse Ventura worked as a political commentator, wrote multiple books, and even hosted television shows — all while challenging mainstream media and getting slightly controversial on current events as a member of the Minnesota Independence Party. 

These days, Ventura is on the popular app Cameo, and took to his Twitter to encourage his fans to "ask me anything about my career, politics, and beliefs... or if you need me to get you hyped to start your day. " We may do just that, Jesse!

Arnold Schwartzenegger went from Terminator to governor

Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood, truly entering the scene when he starred in the hit film, "Conan the Barbarian" back in the 80's (via History). He had previously won numerous bodybuilding competitions; "Mr. Universe" as well as "Mr. Olympia," before becoming a US Citizen and starring in what would be the largest role of his career — "The Terminator." 

Schwarzenegger had always been a vocal supporter of the Republican party, and decided to take a break from acting to run for Governor of California. Schwarzenegger won by a landslide and served two full terms as governor — eventually returning to acting. In a 2021 an interview with Politico, he dished about his time as Governor, "I will work my butt off for you. And I will not look at it in a political way as a Republican. I will just work with both parties, I will serve you, I will be a public servant, not a politician. People bought in, they connected. And I connected with them."  We wonder if "He'll be back" with another run for Governor!

Caitlyn Jenner wanted to run against Gavin Newsom

Former Olympic medalist and reality star Caitlyn Jenner launched a bid earlier this year to try and replace California Governor Gavin Newsome in a recall election; sadly only achieving 1% of the vote. "I'm running because I know the only thing Gavin Newsom will disrupt is our economy and the livelihoods of innocent Californians," Jenner said in a statement reported by People. "There is no other candidate in this race with the experience, leadership, and ability to take on the status quo in order to bring us out of the long, dark shadow of Gavin Newsom's California." Jenner has also been very vocal about her stance on trans athletes competing in women's sports, causing some controversy.

Jenner didn't equate this to a loss, but an opportunity; she was offered a regular contributor position with FOX News as she is truly one of the largest transgender influencers in the world (and she is a Republican). FOX News CEO Suzanne Scott stated, "Caitlyn's story is an inspiration to us all. She is a trailblazer in the LGBTQ+ community and her illustrious career spans a variety of fields that will be a tremendous asset for our audience." 

Clay Aiken decided to run for Congress in 2022

Clay Aiken made his debut on the second season of the hit show "American Idol" almost two decades ago. Aiken was famously Ruben Studdard's runner-up after a very close competition. Amid a successful career in show business, the Raleigh, North Carolina, native decided that he wanted to make a difference; and that meant holding an elected Congressional seat. Aiken made it clear that his beloved home state has a history of progressivism, and he hopes to restore it (via People).

"These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber's, that I can promise you," he said in his campaign video. "But one thing that has never changed for me is how much I love my home state ... We have gotta get better at speaking up and using our voices 'cause [other] folks ain't quieting down anytime soon. That's why I'm running for Congress, here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice." Perhaps Clay can win over his constituents with a ballad, because we are still here for that voice of his!

Sonny Bono served in Congress

After taking a break from the spotlight when his popular television show "The Sonny and Cher Show" was canceled in the late 1970's, singer and pop-star Sonny Bono decided to try his hand in the restaurant business, per History. Bono became more and more frustrated with the ridiculous bureaucratic problems that halted and stalled one of his restaurant construction projects by the local administration in California; he then decided that maybe he needed to get involved with politics. When Bono decided to run for mayor of Palm Springs, many constituents didn't take him seriously. When asked by a reporter for The Desert Sun about the reaction to Bono's candidacy, he said, "They thought it was a joke."

2,000 signatures later, he was elected mayor of Palm Springs in 1988 — although, according to History, he only registered to vote the year before. Bono went on to serve as a US Congressman, first taking office in 1994 when Republicans gained control of Congress, with Newt Gingrich at the helm. Sadly, in 1998, Sonny Bono passed away after a skiing accident, and as former President Bill Clinton declared (via History), "His joyful entertainment of millions earned him celebrity, but in Washington he earned respect by being a witty and wise participant in policymaking processes that often seem ponderous to the American people."

Clint Eastwood was a one-time California mayor

Clint Eastwood is one of the most iconic men on the silver screen. Known for his powerful acting and directing performances, not many people are aware of Eastwood's history in the political world. Believe it or not, he was once the mayor of Carmel, California! According to the Monterey Herald, Eastwood beat out Charlotte Townsend (now affectionately known as the "mayor who lost to Clint Eastwood") to become the next mayor of a town in his home state in 1986. 

As detailed by Mental Floss, previously, Eastwood had sued Carmel's city council after they made his life hell when he tried to turn his residential property into a commercial property. Eastwood realized that things didn't have to be this complicated, and decided to run just hours before the ballot deadline. 

Eastwood only served two years as mayor, but stayed involved in politics. Many years later, Then-Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that Eastwood would be appointed to the California State Park and Recreation Commission. While we love Clint Eastwood as a politician, we want more movies!

Ronald Reagan went from actor to president

The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, wasn't always a fearless leader — he actually began his career as an actor. As detailed by the Miller Center, after college, Reagan took a job as a radio broadcaster with a focus on sports, before moving to Hollywood and securing an agent. After a few successful years in the industry, Reagan got married and divorced, and then married again as his acting career began to fizzle. Always having an interest in politics and even serving in WWII, Reagan gave a famous televised speech in 1964, "A Time for Choosing," on behalf of Republican Presidential Candidate, Barry Goldwater (via History). The people loved Reagan's speech, and thus his political popularity began!

A few years later, in his first race for public office, Reagan won against Democratic candidate Edmund "Pat" Brown Sr. by a significant number of votes to become the next Governor of California. Ronald Reagan finally got his shot at the presidency when he beat out Jimmy Carter; and at age 69, he was the oldest person elected to be the President of the United States (clearly, he doesn't still hold that title). Thank you for your service, Ronald Reagan!