This year’s midterm elections could feature several people with little or no political experience — but they do have varying degrees of celebrity. Some of the possible 2018 contenders include two Miss Americas, a star from the 1990s film “Clueless,” a soap opera actor, and a former star of “Law and Order SVU.”
Donald Trump’s successful neophyte presidential bid — which came after a career in real estate and reality TV — served as a reminder that celebrity can be a big commodity in a political campaign.
Here are a few of the famous candidates considering runs in 2018:
Diane Neal, former “Law & Order: SVU” actress
Neal, 42, announced her bid last week to represent New York’s 19th congressional district as an independent. She starred as Casey Novak, the assistant district attorney, in NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU” for four seasons.
Neal is no stranger to Washington, having spent part of her childhood in the District. She eventually wound up in New York pursuing a career as an actress. On her campaign website, she said that her life changed in a few years ago while she was in Los Angeles for work when an “uninsured motorist” ran into her, which left her with a spinal injury that led to surgeries, medical procedures and physical therapy.
“Finally, it was too much. I needed to get better. I sold everything I could, and I found a familiar and peaceful place to live in Hurley, a town full of like-minded people facing the same challenges,” she wrote.
“For the past year, I have thought long and hard about my home here, my fellow citizens here. I pondered the best, most honest, most helpful, way to proceed. I read and re-read every [time] I had time to fit in and spoke to everyone I could about all the things that were important to them. I talked to many, many people who had run for office for both parties,” she said, and decided to run for Congress without the backing of a major political party.
The district covers Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, Delaware, Sullivan and other counties in an area that’s mostly south of Albany. Rep. John Faso, R-New York, currently represents the district in the House and has already filed for re-election.
The seat may be Republican now, but a Democrat or even a serious independent has a solid chance here. The district is pretty evenly split. It went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, by eight and six points respectively, but Mr. Trump won the district in 2016
Mallory Hagan, former Miss America
Hagan, 29, would be one of the youngest members elected to Congress, were she to win. The former Miss America announced last week that she plans to run for Alabama’s 3rd congressional district seat as a Democrat.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, currently holds the seat and was first elected to Congress in 2002. The district is situated in east central Alabama and encompasses portions of Montgomery Country and a number of other counties.
Hagan was crowned Miss America in 2013 and recently worked as a TV news anchor at WLTZ-TV in Columbus, Georgia. She was back in the spotlight last year after leaked emails showed that Miss America organizers mocked the bodies and sex lives of former winners.
The CEO of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskell, even referred to Hagan as “huge and gross” in an email and joked that he and three other men were “the only ones” who had not slept with her.
Two other Democratic candidates have also launched bids for the congressional seat as well as one independent.
And believe it or not, Hagan is not the only Miss America running for office in 2018.
Erika Harold, former Miss America
Harold, the 2003 Miss America, is running for statewide office to be Illinois attorney general. The Harvard law grad and Phi Beta Kappa is a practicing lawyer in Champaign, Illinois. The young Republican entered the Miss America pageant hoping she could win some money to pay for law school. As a teen, she promoted teenage abstinence, and later, she served as a GOP delegate to the 2004 Republican Convention and was also an enthusiastic supporter of President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives.
This is not Harold’s first campaign — a couple of years back she also challenged incumbent Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican, for his seat in Congress, losing in the primary. This time, in her bid to be the Illinois attorney general, Harold has a better shot, having secured the support of the state’s Republicans. It also helps that the popular current state AG, Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, announced she will not run for re-election.
Harold is not always in lock-step with her party, though. She declined to vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 (or for Hillary Clinton, for that matter), choosing instead to write in a candidate.
Stacey Dash, former “Clueless” star
Stacey Dash, the 51-year-old star from the 1995 teen classic movie “Clueless,” announced Saturday that she is considering a run for Congress.
“In response to numerous calls for me to run for office, I am considering a run for Congress,” the Republican actress wrote in a tweet. “Would love to know what my fans and friends think.”
A day earlier, she said “A number of people online and off have suggested I run for political office.”
If she were to run, it would likely be in California, where she lives. Dash has served as an outspoken conservative voice on a number of issues and is an open supporter of President Trump. She called Black Lives Matters advocates “racists” and has advocated for the end of Black History Month. In light of gender-neutral bathroom issues she said that transgender people should “go in the bushes.”
Fox News did not renew Dash’s contract as a conservative pundit for the cable TV network in January.
Curt Schilling, former MLB player
The former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is best known for his wicked four-seamed fastball and splitter, which helped him win World Series championships for three different teams. In recent years, though, after a failed foray into video gaming, he’s flirted with a career in politics. Schilling declared back in 2016 that he was interested in a run to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts in 2018 — pending wife Shonda’s approval.
At the time, Schilling confirmed his decision on WPRO-AM, a local radio show in Rhode Island.
“I’ve made my decision. I’m going to run,” Schilling said during the radio interview. “But – but – I haven’t talked to Shonda, my wife. And ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.”
Shonda Schilling herself later called in to the show saying she wasn’t sure if she’d allow it. Maybe that’s why last year he announced he was endorsing Shiva Ayyadurai, an Indian-born Fulbright scholar, whom Schilling has referred to as a “REAL Indian,” over Twitter — a slap at the controversy over Warren’s claims that she has Cherokee blood.
Antonio Sabato Jr., former soap opera star/model/ reality TV star
The model-turned-actor has indicated he intends to run for office according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 15 of last year.
Sabato, former “General Hospital” cast member, also starred on “The Bold and the Beautiful” with guest appearances on sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” and the TV drama “Bones.” He also competed in and was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars Season 19.
Sabato will challenge Congresswoman Julia Brownley for California’s 26th District. Sabato most recently appeared at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio where he told delegates, “I believe we need Donald Trump, who shares my belief and my faith to get this country back on track.” He said shares Mr. Trump’s desire for unity and “one America.”
Like President Trump, Sabato prides himself as not being a “career politician.” As an immigrant from Rome, he said at the RNC, “I followed all the rules and finally became a naturalized citizen in 1996.” Others who want to enter the U.S. “should follow the same rules,” he said, adding that “there should be no short cuts for those who don’t want to pay and wait.”
According to his congressional campaign website, Sabato considers himself an “entertainer, advocate and entrepreneur.” He lists veterans, agriculture and diplomacy as issues central to his campaign.
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