Celebrities Who've Talked About Running for Office — and 8 Who Were Actually Elected

Meet the stars who have previously voiced political aspirations — and those who won their way to higher office

01 of 27

Ben Savage

ben savage
Emma McIntyre/Getty

Boy meets office!

In August 2022, Savage announced that he was running for a seat on the city council of West Hollywood, California, his longtime place of residence.

"There are serious challenges ahead and West Hollywood deserves sensible, honest and strong leadership to face them," Savage wrote on his campaign website. "We need new leaders with a fresh perspective who are ready to begin tackling these issues."

According to LA Weekly, he was forecasted to come in ninth place with 6 percent of the vote.

He decided to try his hand again in 2023, this time for Congress: paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 18 showed the creation of a committee for Savage's campaign. Savage's run as a Democrat would be in California's 30th District seat, currently held by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

Schiff is expected to run for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat, although Feinstein, 89, has yet to make a decision on her future, according to Deadline.

02 of 27

Anson Williams

Anson Williams
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

The former star of the beloved sitcom Happy Days announced that he will run for mayor in Ojai, California, the Ojai Valley News reported in June 2022.

During the city council meeting that was open to the public on June 28, Williams, 72, noted that Ojai needs "leadership that inspires a collaborative team."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Williams would compete against Ojai Mayor Betsy Stix, who is running for reelection.

He lost by just 42 votes that December, the New York Post reported.

03 of 27

Clay Aiken

Phillip Faraone/FilmMagic

He was the runner-up on the second season of American Idol, and Aiken's 2014 Congressional hopes ended with a similar outcome. Running as a Democrat in a conservative-leaning North Carolina district, he lost against the incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers. If Aiken had won, it would have been a substantial feat, as he would have been the first openly gay congressperson from the South.

In 2022, he decided to give it another go, announcing his campaign for North Carolina's 6th Congressional District on Jan. 10.

"These days my life looks a lot more like yours than Justin Bieber's, that I can promise you," he said. "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 those folks ain't quieting down anytime soon," he continued of "divisive" politicians. "That's why I'm running for Congress, here in this community that raised me and where I first discovered my voice."

He lost to Valerie Foushee, earning 7 percent of the vote.

04 of 27

Matthew McConaughey

matthew mcconaughey
Matthew McConaughey.

All right, all right, all right! The Oscar winner and proud Texan teased that he was mulling a run for governor of the Lone Star State, as a Democrat.

"I'm looking into now again, 'What is my leadership role?' " the star said on The Balanced Voice podcast in March of 2021, per The Hill. "Because I do think I have some things to teach and share. What is my role, what is my category in my next chapter of life that I'm going into now?"

At the state level, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party said they'd welcome it if McConaughey threw his (cowboy) hat in the ring.

"He's young, good-looking, smart and has a little wildness — but this is Texas," Gilberto Hinojosa told Politico. "We like that stuff."

On Nov. 28, 2022, he took his name out of consideration.

"At this point in my life with the things — I've got a 13-year-old, an 11-year-old, an 8-year-old. The life I'm living right now, the storytelling I want to keep doing, it's not the category for me at this point in my life," he told Jimmy Fallon a few weeks later.

05 of 27

Jim Bob Duggar

Jim Bob Duggar
Jim Bob Duggar. Jim Bob Duggar for Arkansas/Facebook

The Duggar family patriarch lost a primary race in his campaign for state senate in December 2021, days after his eldest son Josh was found guilty by the jury in his child sexual abuse material case.

"I want to thank those of you who voted for me, volunteered, contributed, and supported me in my race for Arkansas State Senate District 7," Duggar wrote in a Facebook post, adding his congratulations for the top two Republican candidates in the race — Colby Fulfer and Steve Unger — who will advance to a run-off election in January 2022.

Poll results show that Duggar won roughly 15 percent of the vote.

06 of 27

Dr. Mehmet Oz

Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz. Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

The TV personality officially announced that he was running for Senate as a Republican on Nov. 30, 2021, penning an op-ed for The Washington Examiner in which he wrote that he is launching his campaign "to help fix the problems and to help us heal."

Writing that the coronavirus pandemic had ultimately led him to enter the Pennsylvania Senate race, Oz said many of the more-than 750,000 American COVID-19 deaths were "preventable."

"Dissenting opinions from leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated," Oz wrote. "Instead, the government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered. We were told to lock down quietly and let those in charge take care of the rest."

After a contentious race and a close election, he eventually lost to Democrat John Fetterman.

07 of 27

Caitlyn Jenner

caitlyn jenner instagram
Caitlyn Jenner/instagram

The reality star and Olympian launched a bid to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the Republican ticket in late April 2021, after the GOP gathered enough signatures for a recall vote.

Billing herself as a "compassionate disruptor," Jenner cited her love for California and commitment to protecting the best interests of its people upon filing the initial paperwork.

"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. "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 earned just 1 percent of the vote in California's special September 2021 election.

08 of 27

Steve Lodge

Vicki Gunvalson and Steve Lodge
Vicki Gunvalson and Steve Lodge. Astrid Stawiarz/Bravo

Lodge, the former fiancé of former Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson, announced on Instagram in 2021 that he was running for Governor of California. In his June 29 post, he shared that he was born and raised in California and raised his children there but he can "no longer stand by and watch my beautiful state being destroyed by bad decisions made by Sacramento career politicians."

"Its time for the people of California to regain control of their government, not only at the state level, but in the counties, cities, and school boards," he continued.

He concluded with, "Help me 'Make California, California Again.' "

Lodge earned less than 1 percent of the vote in the special September 2021 election.

09 of 27

Dan Rodimer

Dan Rodimer
Dan Rodimer. Ethan Miller/Getty

The former professional wrestler entered the political arena in March 2021, marking his third bid for public office — but it didn't go as he hoped.

Rodimer ran for a vacant seat in Texas' 6th Congressional District, joining a pool of 23 candidates vying for Texas' open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat was made vacant following the death of Rep. Ron Wright, who passed away while hospitalized with COVID-19.

In the May 1 special election, the WWE alum came in 11th with 3 percent of the vote, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Rodimer previously ran for Congress in Nevada, losing the race in November 2020. In 2018, he fell short in state Senate election there.

10 of 27

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

A recent poll found that 46 percent of Americans would support a presidential run from "The Rock" — and the actor shared his reaction to the news on Instagram in April 2021.

"Humbling 🙏🏾🤯" he captioned the post. "I don't think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club - but if it ever happens it'd be my honor to serve you, the people 🙏🏾💪🏾🇺🇸"

Johnson has discussed the prospect of running for president on numerous occasions, including last February to USA Today.

"I would consider a presidential run in the future if that's what the people wanted. Truly I mean that, and I'm not flippant in any way with my answer," he said. "That would be up to the people. ... So I would wait, and I would listen. I would have my finger on the pulse, my ear to the ground."

The wrestler-turned-blockbuster actor also talked about running for office back in 2017, telling PEOPLE he'd consider a run for the top job in the future.

The "Run the Rock 2020" campaign committee was actually filed with the Federal Election Commission, making Johnson an eligible candidate in the 2020 race. Obviously, he never followed through — even though he was at one point polling higher than President Donald Trump. (We bet those numbers would go up even more if he made Tom Hanks his running mate.)

11 of 27

Barbara Kavovit

Barbara Kavovit
Barbara Kavovit. Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Kavovit, who appeared on The Real Housewives of New York City in 2019, announced on social media on Jan. 27, 2021, that she was running to become the city's mayor — joining a field that was already shaping up to be full of far more connected and well-known names.

But that didn't stop Kavovit, CEO of Evergreen Construction, an N.Y.C.-based company she founded when she was 21.

The businesswoman-turned-reality star was born in The Bronx and her company is named for the street where her late father grew up. Kavovit wrote on Instagram that she decided to run for mayor because she believes the city "is in a state of crisis."

"I may not be a politician, but I'm a Bronx-born New Yorker who isn't fearful of the hard work and tough decisions that lay ahead," she wrote.

She ultimately dropped out of the race, but told Page Six she plans to run again in the next election.

12 of 27

Cynthia Nixon

The People's State Of The Union
Roy Rochlin/Getty

The lifelong New Yorker and Sex and the City star announced her candidacy for Governor of New York on March 19, 2018. "New York is my home. I've never lived anywhere else," she said in a video released to launch her campaign. "I was given chances I just don't see for most of New York's kids today. Our leaders are letting us down." Nixon was eventually defeated by incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

13 of 27

Glenn Jacobs

'Scooby Doo Wrestlemaina Mystery' VIP Screening, New York, America - 22 Mar 2014
Dave Allocca/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

WWE fans know him as Kane, but Glenn Jacobs got a brand new title in 2018. The former wrestler was elected mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, on Aug. 2, 2018, Sports Illustrated reported. Jacobs defeated Democratic nominee Linda Haney with a 2-1 lead. Jacobs first announced he was running for office the year prior and won the Republican primary election against Brad Anders by 23 votes that May.

14 of 27

Kid Rock

Kid Rock Visits FOX's "America Live"
Rob Kim/Getty

When a "Kid Rock for Senate" website popped up on the Internet in July 2017, people had one question: Was this for real? Nope. Though he initially swore it was not a hoax, he later revealed it was a publicity stunt for an upcoming album.

15 of 27

Ben Higgins

Mike Pont/WireImage

The Bachelor alumnus toyed with the idea of running for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives in 2016, just after his season of the show aired. All signs pointed to go, with Higgins filing the paperwork to run, but he ultimately decided drop out of the race.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances, I will not be able to move forward as a candidate," he said in a statement. "I find solace in knowing that our intentions and actions have been fair and sincere. I entered into this endeavor wanting to bring positive change to my community, and it is with that same spirit that I will move forward, albeit on a different path."

16 of 27

Shaquille O'Neal


In 2017, the former NBA player announced that he planned to run for Sheriff in 2020, although later he bumped his plans to 2024. (He didn't specify which state he'd be running in.)

"This is not about politics," he told WXIA in Atlanta. "This is about bringing people closer together. You know, when I was coming up, people loved and respected the police, the deputies. And, I want to be the one to bring that back, especially in the community I serve."

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Shaq has served as a reserve officer in the Doral Police Department in Florida, as well as in Miami Beach, Tempe, Arizona, and the Port of Los Angeles. In December 2016, he became a sworn deputy in Clayton County, and in 2021, became director of community relations for the Henry County Sheriff's Office in Georgia.

17 of 27

Antonio Sabato Jr.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty

In 2018, the Italian soap star challenged incumbent Democrat Julia Brownley to represent California's 26th district in Congress. Sabato Jr., a Republican, spoke fondly of then-President Donald Trump in the past, saying, "It is refreshing to have a candidate like Trump who is so honest about his feelings because he speaks for many of us when he says we are in a bad place." That thinking didn't do him any favors in ultra-blue Los Angeles, and he lost his race.

18 of 27

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Isa Foltin/Getty

He's called the Governator for a reason! Schwarzenegger moved away from his action star roots to pursue a political career in 2003, when he announced his candidacy for governor of California — despite having no prior political experience. He ended up winning in a special recall election of former Governor Gray Davis, and then won outright again in 2006. He left office in January 2011, after completing his second term, the most allowed by law.

19 of 27

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Eastwood is a different kind of triple threat: acting, directing and politics. In 1986, he ran for mayor of his California hometown, Carmel. He won by a landslide, capturing 72.5 percent of the vote. His term was just two years, and he didn't seek reelection — seemingly because the reason he originally ran was due to the fact that his plans to construct a building next to his restaurant were rejected by the town's council.

20 of 27

Al Franken

Al Franken
Alex Brandon/AP

Former Saturday Night Live writer and performer Franken served as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota beginning in 2009. His first election was a close one, which ended in multiple recounts and an election contest that went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. In 2014, he was reelected with 53.9 percent of the vote. However, multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in 2017, and in early 2018, he left office.

21 of 27

Howard Stern

Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

In 1994, when New York Governor Mario Cuomo was up for reelection, running against eventual Governor George Pataki, Stern decided to enter the race as a Libertarian. He ran on the promise of reinstating the death penalty, upping highway tolls to reduce traffic and forcing construction workers to work at all hours of the night. He said that after these goals were achieved, he'd get out of office. His dreams never came to fruition: Stern ended up dropping out of the race after he refused to release a personal finance disclosure.

22 of 27

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base
Donald Trump. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

A New York City figure and host of The Apprentice, Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in 2016 after rising to the top of a crowded field of Republican candidates to run against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His single term was wildly controversial, though, and ended with him becoming the only president in history to be impeached twice. He lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden, though never officially conceded the race.

23 of 27

Jesse Ventura

Alex Wong/Newsmakers

He rose to fame as a professional wrestler — with the nickname "The Body" — but Ventura may be best known now for making the move from the wrestling ring to the political arena. He first served as the mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and went on to become the governor of Minnesota in 1999, the first to hold the office as a member of the Reform Party.

24 of 27

Wyclef Jean

Remy Martin Presents "The Producers Series: Season 2" Qualifier No. 2
John Lamparski/WireImage

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Haitian native Jean decided he wanted to run for president of the country. Though he filed the paperwork for his candidacy, his bid was quickly thwarted: he didn't meet Haiti's five-year residency requirement for the job.

25 of 27

Jerry Springer

"The Jerry Springer Show" 20th Anniversary Show Taping
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Springer started his career as a political reporter. But before he made the transition to TV in 1991, the year his eponymous show premiered, he had a short-lived political career of his own: In 1970, he had an unsuccessful run for Congress, and then had a better turn during his run for Mayor of Cincinnati, a position he served in from 1977 to 1978.

26 of 27

Shirley Temple

12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

She may be the original child star, but the late Temple abandoned her early career for a life of public service. She retired from show business in 1950, at just 22 years old, and after becoming an active member of the California Republican party, she ran for Congress in the Republican primary for the state's 11th district, ultimately losing and not making it to the general election. That was hardly the end of her political life, however: Though she never ran for office again, she went onto serve as the United States Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

27 of 27

Ronald Reagan


Before there was Donald Trump, there was Ronald Reagan. An actor and one-time president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan left his acting career behind to run for governor of California, winning the job in 1967, which he held until 1975. He then, of course, went on to become the 40th president of the United States.

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