11 Celebrities You Didn't Know Ran for Office

From a controversial radio host to an American Idol favorite, these stars dabbled in politics.

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We don't have to tell you that celebrity and politics often intersect. Formerly famous for other things, candidates like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and yes, Donald Trump, also found political success. But these well-known line-crossers aren't the only celebrities who ran for public office. From controversial radio hosts to American Idol favorites, we've rounded up 11 stars who've explored their political sides—usually without much success. And for stars with growing families, check out 36 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Grandparents.

1
Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr
Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins

You may have tried to forget, but Roseanne Barr actually ran for president in 2012 as the candidate chosen by the Peace and Freedom party, a left-wing party that still exists. The comedian came in sixth place in the popular vote; a documentary called Roseanne for President! tracked her controversial campaign.

And for stars who've known each other forever, check out 35 Celebrities You Didn't Realize Grew Up Together.

2
Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken
Shutterstock/Everett Collection

American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken ran for Congress as a Democrat to represent his home state of North Carolina in 2014. He won the primary (his opponent died shortly afterwards), but lost to the Republican incumbent. As of 2020, Aiken says he has no intentions of running for public office again.

3
Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer
Shutterstock/s_bukley

An outlier on this list, Jerry Springer was in politics prior to finding fame as the host of a gleefully trashy daytime talk show. He was a campaign aide for Robert Kennedy, a member of the Cincinnati, Ohio City Council for several years, and even the mayor of the city, from 1977 to 1981.

Want to feel old? Here are 40 Celebrities You Won't Believe Are Over 40.

4
Howard Stern

Howard Stern
Shutterstock/s_bukley

Shock jock Howard Stern intended to run for governor of New York in 1994 as a candidate for the Libertarian party, but dropped out when he was unwilling to submit his financial records.

5
Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Antonio Sabato Jr
Shutterstock/s_bukley

Model and soap opera actor Antonio Sabato Jr. ran for Congress as a Republican in 2018, losing to California Democratic incumbent Julia Brownley.

For more stars who have connections you didn't know, check out 26 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Scientologists.

6
Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon
Shutterstock/lev radin

Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon challenged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary in 2018. She lost to the incumbent, who went on to win the election, but has said that she does not regret her run.

7
Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple 2
Shutterstock/Featureflash Photo Agency

In 1967, former child star (maybe the child star) Shirley Temple unsuccessfully ran for a California congressional seat, which would have made her the first woman to represent the state. She stayed in politics, however, shifting to international service and being named the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

For other famous faces who left the business, here are 15 Stars Who Quit Acting After Hitting It Big.

8
Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean
Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins

Rapper and producer Wyclef Jean took steps to enter into the 2010 presidential race for his home country of Haiti. However, his candidacy was rejected without a publicly stated reason. Jean has said he believes it was because of a five-year residency rule for those seeking political office.

9
George Takei

George Takei
lev radin/Shutterstock

Star Trek actor and activist George Takei lost a bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in the '70s and dropped out of a run to become a California State Assemblyman in 1980, after his opponent attempted to have Star Trek reruns taken off the air during the race, claiming that they gave him an unfair advantage.

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10
Sean Duffy

Sean Duffy
YouTube/ABC

The Real World: Boston housemate and staunch Republican Sean Duffy not only ran for political office, he served in Congress from 2011 to 2019, representing Wisconsin. He resigned his seat to spend more time with his family. (Duffy has nine children with The Real World: San Francisco alum, Rachel Campos.)

11
Diane Neal

Diane Neal
Shutterstock/lev radin

Former Law & Order: SVU D.A. Diane Neal ran for Congress as an Independent in 2018. She lost the opportunity to represent her New York district to Democrat Antonio Delgado.

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