No. 2 Officer of SAG-AFTRA Resigns to Run for State Assembly as a Republican

Ned Vaughn - P 2013
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Ned Vaughn - P 2013

UPDATED: "There are more people to the right of center in Hollywood than are acknowledged, and I'd urge them to join me and speak freely about their ideas," says Ned Vaughn, who has been endorsed by SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard.

Actor Ned Vaughn, the No. 2-ranking national officer of SAG-AFTRA, has resigned as executive vice president of the powerful entertainment industry union in order to run for assemblyman in California as a Republican.

Vaughn’s credits include roles in The Hunt for Red October, Apollo 13 and dozens of TV shows. In the fourth season of the Fox hit 24, his character killed the fictional president.

He acknowledges his political leanings are at odds with the prevailing wisdom in Hollywood, perhaps especially at SAG-AFTRA. Though decades ago, another former union officer, Ronald Reagan, did well in California state politics.

“President Reagan certainly cited the positive impact of leading the Screen Actors Guild for influencing his ability to govern beyond SAG,” Vaughn told The Hollywood Reporter.

STORY: SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard Reelected 

Vaughn was elected to the SAG board of directors in 2008 and became first vp in 2010. After the 2012 merger with AFTRA that he helped navigate, he was named executive vp of SAG-AFTRA, a labor organization with 160,000 members.

“Obviously, as the lone Republican in the national leadership, I’m a bit of an outlier, but I know I have the respect of my colleagues,” Vaughn said.

That being said, others find it more difficult than does Vaughn to be an outspoken Republican in Hollywood nowadays, and some may fear reprisals, he said.

“I haven’t allowed myself to feel intimidated by the political climate in Hollywood, but it’s easy to understand why others do,” he said. “When your livelihood can be affected by talking openly about your political beliefs, that’s reprehensible -- and it absolutely goes on here. It should never happen in this country, in either direction. But in Hollywood today, the scales tip in one direction, and that’s against conservatives.”

Vaughn is running for the California State Assembly in the 66th district, which was recently created by a redistricting panel. The district includes Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and other areas. Vaughn lives in Rancho Palos Verdes with his wife and five children. According to the Daily Breeze, a newspaper in the district, businessman Craig Huey also plans to run as a Republican and school board member Al Muratsuchi plans to run as a Democrat.

“There’s no doubt the Republican party gets an undeserved bad rap in Hollywood,” Vaughn said. “But I also know there are more people to the right of center in Hollywood than are acknowledged, and I’d urge them to join me and speak freely about their ideas. It’s a problem when people in our industry with conservative views -- which resonate across the country -- allow themselves to be intimidated.”

Vaughn’s term at SAG-AFTRA was to be up at the end of September and on Tuesday he informed the organization he would resign and not stand for re-election because of his campaign for the Assembly. From Boston, where he is filming The Judge with Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard e-mailed his endorsement of Vaughn.

“We may not have the same views on politics, but Ned is one of the finest leaders I've ever known; while others talk about fixing problems, he simply gets it done," Howard said.  "He is a man of vision and extraordinary integrity. He's also a devoted husband and father who gave countless hours of service to strengthen our union. His decision to run for public office can only be a good thing for California.”

Vaughn said his Republican values guided his actions at SAG and AFTRA, which he says were “dysfunctional” when he was elected to the board five years ago, and he likened the situation to California.

“We streamlined the structure, eliminated wasteful spending and built an organization that represents members without playing partisan politics. That's the kind of leadership we need in Sacramento,” he said.