Cynthia Nixon, according to news reports, is gearing up to potentially challenge Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary. The conventional wisdom among Empire State political wags is that she likely won’t unseat him, but she could prove to be a Manolo stiletto in his side. Nixon has needled the governor on education issues, which could form one of her potential campaign’s planks. In a “Today” show interview last year, Nixon said she had been encouraged to run.
“The gap in our richest schools and our poorest schools under Gov. Cuomo is wider than it’s been before,” said Nixon, a mother of three children who have attended New York public schools. “And that’s got to stop.”
But Nixon is hardly the only celebrity dipping a famous toe into political waters. Of course, there’s been enough ink spilled over Oprah Winfrey’s presidential ambitions to fill a pool at one of her palatial homes. And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is perpetually flirting with rumors that he’s interested in the highest office in the land. But here are a few boldfacers who are actually making the leap — and aiming slightly lower than the Oval Office, which is the way more conventional pols got their start, too:
Actress Diane Neal, best known for her role as Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” is running as an independent for a House seat in upstate New York. “Let’s show everyone how it can be done- with empathy and reason!” she tweeted last month.
Neal has acknowledged she will struggle to even get on the ballot — and she’s fending off charges of carpetbagging. “How could anyone think another voice in the race, which brings more attention to NY19, more opportunity to talk about issues/ideas/policies, more money/jobs for locals, is a BAD thing is beyond me,” she tweeted last month in response to such criticism.
On the other side of the country, celebs are running in two California districts. Former soap star/underwear model turned prominent Trump defender Antonio Sabato Jr. is seeking to unseat a Democrat representing the Ventura County area. Challenges for the onetime “General Hospital” hunk include the district’s makeup (it went for Hillary Clinton in 2016), his past roles playing gay characters (conservatives apparently aren’t thrilled about that), and his controversial remarks about former president Barack Obama being a Muslim (he’s, um, not).
Actress Stacey Dash also has an uphill battle for the seat she’s seeking in the 44th District, a heavily Democratic, Hispanic-majority Los Angeles area now represented by Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán. But she’s giving it a go, filing paperwork for her campaign committee “Dash to DC” with the FEC and promising this week that she’ll debut her platform “asap.”
The “Clueless” star and conservative firebrand’s national name recognition will no doubt help her fill her campaign coffers, and Dash has played on that, tweeting “a campaign runs on donors from anywhere in the country. My site can take donations. I need your help and anything is appreciated.”
And maybe this is stretching the definition of “celebrity” (let’s call it celebrity-adjacent), but there’s also Kyle Frenette, the longtime manager of indie folk band Bon Iver, running for Congress from Wisconsin. And it’s (kind of) a celeb-on-celeb matchup, since he’s challenging Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, who, before becoming a district attorney, was a reality TV star on MTV’s “The Real World: Boston.”
And like other celebrity runs, this one’s also a windmill tilt: Duffy won his last reelect on a more-than-comfy margin, and the district similarly went big for Trump over Clinton.