Five faces from the media who became political candidates

Several prominent political pundits, commentators and analysts for media outlets 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 on a local, state and national level. 

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

Daniel Goldman, MSNBC contributor

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Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as counsel to House Democrats in the first impeachment investigation of former president Trump, has made frequent appearances on the NBC family of networks to provide analysis and insight on legal matters and politics. 

This week, he announced his bid for the top law enforcement job in New York state. 

“I’m a prosecutor, not a politician,” he said during a video. “And as attorney general, I’m ready to lead on the big fights.”

A former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York under former U.S. Attorney Preet BhararaPreet BhararaFive faces from the media who became political candidates Former impeachment counsel launches bid for New York attorney general Whatever else he did, Cuomo did not obstruct justice by ranting to Obama White House MORE, Goldman has been on NBC’s airwaves knocking Trump and his actions. 

“He is interfering in this investigation with absolutely no basis to do so,” Goldman said last month of Trump’s refusal to hand over documents of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “There is no basis for these witnesses not to show up to Congress, they can try and evoke executive privilege if they want, but they can’t just defy the subpoenas at all. It’s a much more straightforward case than dealing with these documents.” 

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

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Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

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

“I have never run for political office in my life, but I have spent a lifetime shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe,” Kristof said as he announced his candidacy. “Nothing will change until we stop moving politicians up the career ladder year after year, even though they refuse to step up to the problems Oregon faces.”

The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who specialized on topics relating to human rights abuses often spoke and wrote about how it “sickened” him to return from international reporting trips to find his hometown of Yamhill, Ore., struggling with poverty and addiction. 

“I’m bucking the journalistic impulse to stay on the sidelines because my heart aches at what classmates have endured and it feels like the right moment to move from covering problems to trying to fix them,” he wrote in his final column published in the Times last month. “I hope to convince some of you that public service in government can be a path to show responsibility for 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 speak on issues of race and politics, ran an unsuccessful campaign to replace New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York Third US omicron case detected in Colorado MORE (D) this year. 

She notched endorsements from the city’s largest union and leading national progressives, and was seen as 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. 

“Yes, it is still difficult for women, particularly women of color, to win citywide office in New York and statewide races around the country. And there can be no question that our democracy is in peril,” Wiley wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post after her defeat. “Making it easier to vote, 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 radio host in Los Angeles and regular on the Fox News channel, emerged as a leading gubernatorial candidate for Republicans in California’s recall election against Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom pledges increased spending on busting retail crime rings The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Shipwreck sends waste thousands of miles MORE (D).

Along the campaign trail, he picked up the endorsement of some leading conservatives in Hollywood and promised to replace longtime Democratic Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? New variant raises questions about air travel mandates Progressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign MORE with a Republican if he won. 

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“I’m running for Governor because the decline of California isn’t the fault of its people. Our government is what’s ruining the Golden State,” his campaign website read when it was launched. “Our streets aren’t safe from rising violent crime or the disaster of rising homelessness. And the scandals of Sacramento aren’t going to stop on their own. It’s time to tell the truth. We’ve got a state to save.”

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

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

Donna Deegan, local television anchor

Prominence in media is something candidates for local office have been attempting to capitalize on for decades. 

A recent example has come in Jacksonville, Fla., where longtime weekday television news anchor Donna Deegan this month announced she would run for mayor, saying “change” is needed in the city. 

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“We suffer not so much from a poverty of wealth but from a poverty of will and imagination,” she said in a speech announcing her campaign. “That’s why we need a change in leadership. A change for good, a change that is lasting, a change that works for everyone in Jacksonville.”

Deegan, a breast cancer survivor, would be the first woman elected mayor in Jacksonville history, and the second Democrat in 30 years, The Florida Times-Union reported. She previously ran against incumbent Republican John RutherfordJohn Henry RutherfordFive faces from the media who became political candidates Overnight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight Service dogs are saving veteran lives, despite limited access through VA MORE (R) for a seat representing Florida’s 4th Congressional District and lost. 

“I'm hopeful Rep. Rutherford heard your voices and will work for meaningful healthcare reform, coverage for pre-existing conditions and more,” Deegan said after being defeated by Rutherford. “Our work continues.”

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