12 Celebrities Who Have Run for Public Office

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Clint Eastwood
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As the 2024 presidential election approaches, celebrity-turned-politician Donald Trump hopes to return to the White House.

But Trump is far from the only person to attempt to make the transition from cultural icon to officeholder. The list is long, although some have been more successful than others.

Here are just some of the celebrities who have tried to parlay their status as a household name into a role as an elected official.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump
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Business mogul Donald Trump — who expanded his fame on the TV show “The Apprentice” — famously ascended to the White House after running for president in 2016. He lost his re-election bid in 2020 but is once again the Republican nominee in 2024.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan
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Former Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan served two terms as the 33rd governor of California, winning the election in 1966 and again in 1970.

He was then elected president in 1980 and re-elected in 1984. Both victories for the presidency were mammoth landslides, including a resounding 49-state win in 1984.

Clint Eastwood

Movie star Clint Eastwood
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Legendary tough-guy movie actor and respected film director Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, in 1986. He served one term through 1988.

Roseanne Barr

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Actor Roseanne Barr announced in 2011 that she would run for president on what she described as the “Green Tea Party” ticket. At the same time, she also announced plans to run for prime minister of Israel. Neither campaign gained traction.

Al Franken

U.S. Senator Al Franken at Minnesota State Fair.
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Comedian and actor Al Franken put the funny business aside when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Franken represented Minnesota as a senator from 2009 to 2018 before resigning in the face of accusations of sexual misconduct.

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon at a film festival.
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Cynthia Nixon won an Emmy for her work in the HBO series “Sex and the City.” However, the actress was less successful in her political career. In 2018, Nixon tried to wrest the Democratic Party endorsement from incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but fell short.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger
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Former professional bodybuilder and Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected as California’s 38th governor in 2003. He remained in that job until 2011, although his popularity had waned significantly by the end of his time in office.

Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner at a red carpet event.
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In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom faced a recall election. Media personality Caitlyn Jenner ran to replace Newsom. However, Jenner did not finish among the top 10 candidates, and the recall effort failed anyway.

Kari Lake

Kari Lake at CPAC Conference.
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Former television news anchor Kari Lake ran for the job of Arizona governor in 2022 but lost in a close race. Lake — who generated controversy for contending that irregularities helped President Joe Biden win the 2020 presidential election — is running for the U.S. Senate in 2024.

Fred Thompson

Senator Fred Thompson.
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Actor and radio personality Fred Thompson appeared in many movies, TV shows and commercials before being elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003. As his Senate career wound down, Thompson joined the cast of the television series “Law & Order.”

Mehmet Oz

Mehmet Cengiz OZ running for U.S. Senate.
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Physician and TV personality Mehmet Oz ran as a Republican for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania in 2022 but lost the election to Democrat John Fetterman. Had Oz prevailed, he would have been the first Muslim to serve in the Senate.

Clay Aiken

Arsenio Hall, Donald Trump and Clay Aiken at media event.
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Singer and actor Clay Aiken — seen here in 2012 with Donald Trump and Arsenio Hall — ran to represent North Carolina in Congress two times — first in 2014 and then again in 2022. Neither bid was successful.

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