He knows a thing or two about votes!
"American Idol" alum Clay Aiken may be making a major career switcheroo. The Season 2 runner up is considering a run for Congress, according to The Washington Blade, as excerpted by The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that Aiken is actively looking at challenging Republican North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers this year. Hey, it beats going up against Ruben Studdard!
While Aiken may be the first "Idol" songbird to spread his wings for a possible congressional career ("Clay for Congress" has a catchy ring to it!), he's not the first celeb to do it. Check out these unlikely celeb congressmen and a couple of wannabes.
From Gopher to governor? Well, not quite, but former "Love Boat" star Fred Grandy did have a successful career in Congress. After his stint on the popular late '70s ABC series ended, Grandy left Hollywood and returned home to Iowa to run for Congress. Pal Gavin MacLeod (aka "Captain Stubing") even made Grandy's first campaign contribution, according to the Sioux City Journal.
"As I look back on it, I probably didn't know any better," Grandy said of his decision to enter the world of politics. Still, the former sitcom star enjoyed a successful eight-year run as a U.S. Congressman.
Twenty years after his heyday as a pop icon, Sonny Bono traded his bell bottoms and "I Got You Babes" for a career in congress. Cher's Republican ex was elected to the United States House of Representatives from California's 44th Congressional District in 1994. Before his sudden death in a skiing accident in 1998, the "Sonny and Cher" star often joked about landing in politics. "People have said to me, 'You can't write songs. You can't play an instrument.' But I've got 10 gold records. I can do this job," Bono said of his political duties, according to CNN.
The former "Waltons" star (he played "Pa") star didn't quite complete the trek from Waltons Mountain to Congress, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Back in 1998, actor Ralph Waite challenged Bono's widow in a star-studded race for her late husband's seat. According to the Chicago Tribune, TV's "Waltons" dad withdrew from the race against Rep. Mary Bono because he was unable to build financial support for his campaign. Waite's congressional dreams actually date back to 1990 when he launched a campaign to run for representative from California's 37th district.
"People trust John Walton," Waite told People at the time. "Everywhere I go, people reach out their hands. They're ready to like me. It's a very big plus."
It's no joke -- in 2008, comedian Al Franken ran for the U.S. Senate and won, defeating Democratic Minnesota incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman. The "Saturday Night Live" alum told Politico his fellow politicians can now appreciate his sense of humor.
"The Republicans, I think, at first were a little like, 'Oh, he's a satirist who uses scorn and ridicule against Republicans,' and then after they got to meet me, they were like, 'Oh, he's a comedian, he's got a good sense of humor.'" Franken said. "And that kind of went away, that first initial trepidation, I think went away very quickly."
Will he or won't he? "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson is plenty busy with his family's reality show, but will he extend his 15 minutes with a Congressional bid? The A&E star told Us Weekly he's not planning on running for Congress right now, but he isn't ruling out a future in politics.
"Yeah, I mean, I'd consider everything," he said. "But you know, at this point in my life, I'm really busy. Maybe we can help the country in some way, get these guys to be more efficient and all that. I don't know. I don't think now is the right time but who knows about one day?"
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Fred Grandy
- Sonny Bono
- Ralph Waite