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Twelve Rock Stars Who Ran for Public Office

The political aspirations of Sonny Bono, Martha Reeves, Youssou N’Dour and more

sonny bono

AP Photo/Joe Marquette

Last week Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour announced his candidacy for the president of Senegal. He's far from the first rock star to try and cross over into politics. Sometimes they are successful (Martha Reeves, Sonny Bono), but more often they discover that voters just aren't willing to take their candidacy all that seriously. Click through for a gallery of rock stars who tried to make the transition. 

By Andy Greene

justin jeffre

AP Photo/Al Behrman; Laura Farr/Getty Images

Justin Jeffre

Remember 98 Degrees? They were a poor man's Backstreet Boys, or a slightly wealthier man's LFO. Since their split in 2002 Nick Lachey became internationally famous as Mr. Jessica Simpson, Drew Lachey won Dancing With the Stars and Jeff Timmons worked at (no joke) Chippendales in Las Vegas. Fourth member Justin Jeffre took a very different turn by running for Mayor of Cincinnati. He only got 708 votes in the primary, but that's 708 more votes in an actual election than any other boy band alum ever got. "Hurricane Katrina happened right before the election and that really hurt turnout," Jeffre told Rolling Stone in 2010. "Overall, it was just disappointing . . . I still think we need to  have to have an independent movement in the country and not one that looks like the Tea Party."

john hall

Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images; Araya Diaz/WireImage

John Hall

Stephen Colbert asked John Hall an amazing question during his campaign for Congress a few years back: "How does your partner Daryl Oates feel about the run?" It was a joke, but many people were confused about John Hall's background. His name suggests a weird Hall and Oates hybrid creature, but he was actually a member of 1970s soft rock group Orleans, best known for their hit "Still The One." Hall was always very active in politics, and in 2006 he was elected to the House of Representatives in a wave of new Democrats. Sadly, the next midterm election was a wave for a different party and he lost his seat. 

roy acuff

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Bob Schatz/Liaison

Roy Acuff

Nashville legend Roy Acuff is best remembered for his long tenure with the Grand Ole Opry and for co-founding Acuff-Rose music, which signed Hank Williams, the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison. In 1948, however, he ran for Governor of Tennessee as a Republican. Former Governor Gordon Browning won the election, but Acuff got a healthy share of the vote and helped boost other Republicans on the ticket. 

peter garrett

Cole Bennetts/Getty Images; Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

Peter Garrett

Midnight Oil's most famous song "Beds Are Burning" urges Australians to give the country back to the aboriginals, so it's no surprise that frontman Peter Garrett is a man of intense political convictions. In 2004 he left music behind to run for the Australian House Of Representatives. He was re-elected in 2010 and later appointed Minster for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Garrett hasn't totally left music behind, and in 2009 he reformed with Midnight Oil for a benefit concert. 

luther uncle luke campbell

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Luther “Luke” Campbell

In 1989 Florida rap group 2 Live Crew became unlikely advocates for the First Amendment when their album As Nasty as They Wanna Be was banned in Florida for violating obscenity laws. The ruling was overturned in 1992, but the firestorm of controversy helped the album sell two million copies. In 2011 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County on a platform that included taxing strippers. He got 11 percent of the vote, proving that at least 11 percent of the people in Miami-Date County are fucking awesome. 

martha reeves

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Martha Reeves

As the frontman of Martha and the Vandellas, Martha Reeves sang some of Motown's greatest songs, including "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave," "Dancing In The Street" and "Nowhere To Run." Between 2005 and 2009 she served on the Detroit City Council. She lost her re-election bid after critics complained that her music career didn't leave her enough time to govern, often taking her out of town while crucial bills were being debated. 

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