June 30, 2022

Five faces of the media who became political candidates

Several prominent political pundits, commentators and media analysts large and small have decided to run for public office in recent months, a trend that underscores the importance of name recognition in an increasingly partisan political environment in the local, state and national levels.

Here are five media personalities who are or have attempted to make the leap to political office.

Daniel Goldman, MSNBC contributor

Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as an adviser to House Democrats during former President Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, has made frequent appearances on the NBC network family to provide analysis and information on the legal and political issues.

This week, he announced his candidacy for the position of top law enforcement official in New York State.

“I’m a prosecutor, not a politician,” he said during a video. “And as Attorney General, I’m ready to fight the big fights.”

A former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York under former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Goldman has been on NBC airwaves to slam Trump and his actions.

“He is interfering with this investigation for no reason,” Goldman said last month of Trump’s refusal to hand over documents from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “There’s no reason these witnesses shouldn’t show up in Congress, they can try to claim executive privilege if they want to, but they can’t defy subpoenas at all. This is a much simpler case than dealing with these documents.

Goldman’s announcement came after incumbent Letitia James announced she would run for governor of New York in 2022.

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

Kristof, a columnist at one of the nation’s leading newspapers for nearly four decades, announced this year that he would quit his job at the Times and run as a Democrat for Oregon’s top job.

“I’ve never run for political office in my life, but I’ve spent my life shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe,” Kristof said as he announced his candidacy. “Nothing will change until we stop pushing politicians forward year after year, even if they refuse to address the issues facing Oregon.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, specializing in topics related to human rights abuses, often spoke and wrote about how it had “sickened” him to return from international reporting trips to find his hometown of Yamhill , Oregon, struggling with poverty and drug addiction.

“I’m resisting the journalistic impulse to stay away because my heart aches from what my classmates have been through and it’s a good time to move from covering issues to attempt to resolve them,” he wrote in his latest column published in The Times last month. “I hope to convince some of you that public service in government can be a way to demonstrate accountability to the communities we love, for a country that can do better.”

Maya Wiley, MSNBC Contributor

Wiley, a civil rights lawyer and activist who regularly appeared on MSNBC to talk about issues of race and politics, led an unsuccessful campaign to replace New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) this year.

She won endorsements from the city’s biggest labor union and leading national progressives, and was considered a rising star. But she lost the Democratic nomination to moderate Democrat Eric Adams in a primary field that included more than a dozen candidates.

“Yeah, it’s still tough for women, especially women of color, to win New York City-wide office and statewide races across the country. And there there is no doubt that our democracy is in jeopardy,” Wiley wrote in a Washington Post op-ed after his defeat. “Making voting easier, educating voters, and encouraging a new pipeline of diverse candidates who are not beholden to powerful interests are the tools that will guarantee our democracy.”

Larry Elder, Conservative radio host

Elder, a longtime conservative Los Angeles radio host and Fox News regular, emerged as a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in California’s recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom ( D).

During the campaign trail, he won the endorsement of some prominent conservatives in Hollywood and promised to replace longtime Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein with a Republican if he won.

“I am running for governor because California’s decline is not the fault of its people. Our government is what is ruining the Golden State,” his campaign website read when it launched. “Our streets are not immune to the rise in violent crime or the disaster of growing homelessness. And the Sacramento scandals aren’t going to stop on their own. It’s time to tell the truth. We have a state to save.

During the final weeks of the recall campaign, Elder made frequent appearances on Fox’s prime-time opinion programs with network hosts encouraging his efforts and telling voters in California that they should consider support him in an effort to make California red.

“I’m a unifier,” he said after the recall effort failed by a wide margin, teasing another potential election bid. “We are going to bring this country together.”

Donna Deegan, local television presenter

Media prominence is something candidates for local office have been trying to capitalize on for decades.

A recent example came in Jacksonville, Florida, where longtime weekday TV news anchor Donna Deegan announced this month that she would run for mayor, saying a “change” was needed in the city.

“We don’t suffer so much from a poverty of wealth as we do from a poverty of will and imagination,” she said in a speech announcing her campaign. “That’s why we need a change of leadership. Change for good, change that lasts, change that works for everyone in Jacksonville.

Deegan, a breast cancer survivor, would be the first female elected mayor in Jacksonville history and the second Democrat in 30 years, the Florida Times-Union reported. She previously ran against incumbent Republican John Rutherford (R) for a seat representing Florida’s 4th congressional district and lost.

“I hope Rep. Rutherford has heard your voices and will work for meaningful health care reform, coverage for pre-existing conditions and more,” Deegan said after being defeated by Rutherford. “Our work continues.”

This article was last updated at 9:26 a.m.

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