Kanye West, Cynthia Nixon and More Celebrities Who Campaigned For Office

Look back at the campaigns of the many Hollywood stars who ran for public office over the years, including Cynthia Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

By Cydney Contreras Nov 01, 2020 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Tan France Becomes U.S. Citizen, Excited to Vote

When President Abraham Lincoln vowed to create a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" in his Gettysburg address, he likely didn't expect a Hollywood star to run for public office.

But over a century has passed and this country has seen celebrities from the reality TV, movie and music industries throw their hat in the ring for positions of all sort, including president of the United States of America.

At the time of publication, the U.S. Commander in Chief is none other than President Donald Trump, who spun his business empire into a claim to fame on NBC's reality TV competition, The Apprentice. Despite not having any traditional political chops, Trump was elected to office in 2016 after receiving the required 270 electoral votes. He beat out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who notably won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million. 

Four years later, Trump is fighting to be elected for a second term, going up against former Vice President Joe Biden. Among the third-party and write-in candidates is Kanye West.  

And like Trump, West is a well-known name across the world because of his star status.  

Stars Vote in the 2020 Presidential Election

The rapper is not likely to win, but joins the ranks of other stars who participated in the democratic process. To see the celebrities who ran campaigns in years past, check out the gallery below!

Kanye West

The Grammy-winning artist announced his campaign for president on July 4, 2020. He wrote on Twitter, "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!" 

Donald Trump

Once the face of the reality show The Apprentice, Donald Trump is now known as the 45th President of the United States. He won his presidential race in 2016.

Cynthia Nixon

Miranda Hobbes would be proud. On March 19, 2018, the Sex and the City actress announced her candidacy for Governor of New York.

Al Franken

Before he became known as Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, the Democratic leader served as a writer and actor on NBC's Saturday Night Live for almost two decades and won five Emmys. He began his second term as senator in 2014.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Austrian star, who served as governor of California from 2003 to 2010 as a Republican, is best known for his action movie roles.

He started his entertainment career as a bodybuilder, winning the titles of Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia. He began his onscreen acting career in the '70s and had his breakout role in the 1982 fantasy film Conan the Barbarian. But it was his performance in the 1984 movie The Terminator that cemented his Hollywood action star status—and his character's catchphrase, "I'll be back." Schwarzenegger reprised his role in a 1991 sequel and also went on to star in popular action and comedy films such as PredatorTotal RecallKindergarten Cop, Twins, True Lies and Jingle All the Way.

Melissa Gilbert

The actress, a Democrat who rose to fame playing Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie in the '70s and who took part in Dancing With the Stars in 2012, ran for a U.S. congressional seat in Michigan in 2015. She dropped out of the race in 2016, citing continued problems from neck and back injuries from a 2012 accident.

Ronald Reagan

The late former U.S. president and Republican leader was an actor from the '30s to the '60s, starring in movies such as Hellcats of the Navy, Kings Row and Bedtime for Bonzo. He served as the governor of California between 1967 and 1975 and as the 40th president of the United States between 1981 and 1989. He died in 2004 at age 93.

Clay Aiken

The singer, the runner-up of American Idol season two, ran for Congress as a Democrat in North Carolina's second congressional district in 2014 and lost. Had he won, he would have become the first openly gay congressman elected from the South.

Shirley Temple

The iconic former child star, also known as Shirley Temple Black, ran for Congress as a Republican in 1967 and lost. She began a diplomatic career in 1969, becoming a member of United States' delegation to the United Nations. In 1974, President Gerald Ford appointed the actress ambassador to Ghana. In 1976, she was made the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush made her the U.S. ambassador to Prague.

The actress died at age 85 in 2014.

Clint Eastwood

The four-time Oscar-winning actor and director was elected mayor of the small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1986 and served one term. In 2001, California Governor Gray Davis appointed him to the State Park and Recreation Commission. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger re-appointed the actor to the position in 2004 and also appointed him to the California Film Commission that year.

Eastwood is a staunch Libertarian. He made headlines and sparked memes when he mocked then-President Barack Obama while talking to an empty chair on stage at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Eastwood began his onscreen acting career in the '50s and rose to fame with his performance in the 1966 western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He became even more famous with his role as a police inspector in the 1971 crime drama Dirty Harry and went on to star in four sequels. He was later praised for performances in films such as his 1992 western Unforgiven, the 1995 romantic drama The Bridges of Madison County, the 2004 boxing drama Million Dollar Baby and his 2008 film Gran Torino.

Sean Duffy

The Republican leader and former reality star, who appeared on The Real World: Boston, Road Rules: All Stars and Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, served as district attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin between 2002 and 2010. A year later, he was elected the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 7th congressional district.

Jesse Ventura

Ventura rose to fame as pro wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura and was known for wearing feathered boas in the ring. He dabbled in an acting career, making his big screen debut with fellow entertainer-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 movie Predator. He got into politics in the '90s, serving as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota between 1991 to 1995 and later, as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 after running as a third-party candidate.

Fred Thompson

Thompson, a former former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee and former presidential candidate, began his onscreen acting career in the '80s and appeared in Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury as well as movies such as Secretariat, Die Hard 2 and Baby's Day Out.

He served as a senator between 1994 and 2003. In 2007, he announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and later dropped out of the race.

Thompson died of cancer at age 73 in 2015.

Sonny Bono

The late singer and former husband of Cher served a four-year term as mayor of Palm Springs, California, starting in 1988, a year after he registered to vote himself. In 1992, he ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and lost. In 1994, he won the House of Representatives seat, representing Palm Springs, and was re-elected in 1996. Bono died in a skiing accident two years later. He was 62.

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