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A Complete History of Musicians Running for Office

Wyclef Jean


Wyclef Jean Frederic Dupoux/Getty Images

Haiti has been hugely important to the life and work of Wyclef Jean, one of the island nation’s most famous native sons. This is what inspired the former Fugees MC to run for president of Haiti in 2010, inspired, in so small part, by the earthquake that ripped through the country that same year. His political ambitions were halted before they began, however, as the election commission deemed his efforts invalid as he needed to have been a resident of Haiti for at least five years before running.

Luther Campbell


Luther Campbell Joe Raedle/Getty Images

After decades of courting controversy with his rap group 2 Live Crew and the production of porn films, Luther Campbell pivoted to politics in 2011 with an attempt to unseat the mayor of Miami-Dade County on a platform that included rebuilding housing projects, taxing strippers, and job creation, as well as a promise of transparency about his checkered past. He wound up coming in dead last in the runoff election, garnering a mere 11% of the vote.

Jello Biafra


A Complete History of Musicians Running for Office Rune Hellestad/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The ability of anyone with enough money or gumption to run for mayor in most cities has brought many unusual candidates to the yard over the decades—including former Dead Kennedys vocalist Jello Biafra who made a run at unseating then-mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein in 1979. The punk icon had a hell of a platform, too, including forcing cops to run for election in the neighborhoods they patrol, legalizing squatting in vacant buildings, and banning cars within the city. Biafra lost his bid, grabbing just under four percent of the vote. The outspoken artist also made a run for the Green Party’s nomination for president in 2000, even going so far as to choose jailed activist Mumia Abu-Jamal as his running mate.

Roy Acuff


A Complete History of Musicians Running for Office Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When Tennessee Gov. Gordon Browning skipped the party celebrating the Grand Ole Opry radio show going nationwide in 1948, country music legend Roy Acuff didn’t just get mad, he tried to get even. Acuff mounted a campaign to unseat the governor. Acuff’s run for office started off well, as he sailed through the Republican primary and did a fine job balancing his political ambitions with his duties as host of the Opry — but he was knocked out in the general election handily after grabbing 33 percent of the vote.