Wyclef Jean's recent decision to run for the presidency
of his native Haiti got me thinking about celebrities and athletes who run for political office and their chances of success. He is not the first and surely will not be the last celebrity to seek elected office. The closest celebrity or athlete whose decision to run for public office parallels Wyclef's is soccer legend George Weah
. A native of war torn Liberia, Weah donated his personal wealth and time to fund various projects in his native land during the height of a civil war that resulted in thousands of deaths. In 2005, he announced his decision to seek the presidency of Liberia. Unfortunately for Weah, his presidential bid ended in defeat to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard educated economist and political activist who became the first elected female president in Africa in the process. Wyclef could potentially face some of the same problems Weah ran into during the campaign: lack of a formal college degree, questionable finances and a sense of privilege due to their celebrity and wealth.
Other prominent celebrities who have ran for political office include action movie icon and the “Terminator” Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California following a recall defeat for then incumbent Gray Davis in 2005. Former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson successfully ran for the mayor of Sacramento in 2008. NFL Hall of Famer and Pittsburgh Steelers legend Lynn Swann unsuccessfully sought the governorship of Pennsylvania in 2006. Actor and singer Sonny Bono of the popular 1970s show “The Sonny and Cher Show,” served four years as mayor of Palm Springs before successfully running for the a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, a seat he held until his untimely death in a skiing accident in 1998. His wife completed his final term in Congress.