Sen. Mellencamp? The title certainly strikes a chord with more than 7,708 members of a Facebook group that's trying to convince rocker and Indiana native John "Cougar" Mellencamp to run for the U.S. Senate to fill the seat that Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh soon will leave behind. The 58-year-old singer, known for his rock songs about the heartland and the working man, was an inaugural organizer of the Farm Aid concert benefit for family farms in 1985.
A vocal critic of George W. Bush's administration and the Iraq war, Mellencamp participated in the 2004 "Vote for Change" tour. In 2008, Mellencamp requested that GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain stop using his songs at his campaign rallies. Mellencamp also recorded a radio ad in support of Barack Obama that aired in Indiana in the lead up to the November 2008 vote. In February, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member performed in a concert at the White House featuring civil rights music. In light of the fans' recent push to see him in office, the CNN Fact Check Desk wondered how many other entertainers have made the jump successfully to politics.
Fact check: What other entertainers have become lawmakers?
- From 1975 until 1995, Al Franken wrote and also performed on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." The five-time Emmy winner was elected U.S. senator from Minnesota in 2008 as a Democrat but wasn't sworn in till July because of a statewide recount.
– Best known for playing political types, including a long-running gig on NBC's "Law & Order," Fred Thompson was a Republican U.S. senator representing Tennessee from 1994 to 2003. He ran for president in 2008 but dropped out.
– Sonny Bono, part of 1960s singing duo Sonny and Cher, was the mayor of Palm Springs, California, before being elected to Congress in 1994 as a Republican. He served until his death in a 1998 skiing accident.
– Fred Grandy, who played Assistant Purser Burl "Gopher" Smith on TV's "The Love Boat," ran for Congress in 1986 as a Republican and won. He represented Iowa's 6th Congressional District and later 5th District from 1987 until 1995. He lost a bid for Iowa governor in 1994.
– Ben Jones, also known as Cooter on TV's "The Dukes of Hazzard," served two terms (1989-1993) as a Democratic congressman from Georgia's 4th Congressional District.
– Two entertainers have been elected governor of states: Pro wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura ran for governor of Minnesota in 1998 as a member of the Reform Party and served one term. And then we all know about action star and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran as a Republican in the 2003 recall election in California. He was re-elected in 2006.
– Another actor was also a two-term Republican governor of California, who starred in films such as "Knute Rockne All American," "Kings Row," "Bedtime for Bonzo" and "Hellcats of the Navy." Ronald Reagan went on to be elected the 40th president of the United States in 1980 and was re-elected in 1984.
There are several other examples of entertainers successfully entering politics. The majority of those on our list have been actors who were Republicans, while Mellencamp is a musician and would more likely run as a
Democrat. A spokesman for Mellencamp said the musician has "never expressed overt interest in running for anything."
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