City slickers/village idiots
Jerry Springer, television talk show host and former mayor of Cincinnati
Springer served five terms on Cincinnati’s city council and was elected mayor in 1977 (by the largest plurality in the city’s history). He was 33 at the time. After giving up public office, Springer became anchor and managing editor at WLWT, a local television station, receiving seven Emmys for his nightly commentaries. He currently hosts the Jerry Springer Show, a popular but much criticized television confrontation show. He played himself in a fictionalized movie about the show.
Robert Dole, former presidential candidate, Viagra spokesman and former county attorney for Russell County, Kan.
Dole served four terms as Russell County Attorney before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he also served four terms. Elected to the Senate in 1968, he served 28 years before retiring in 1996 to seek the GOP nomination for the presidency. (He was the vice presidential candidate in 1976.) He was elected Majority Leader of the Senate in 1984. A platoon leader in the Army during WWII, Dole was twice wounded and twice decorated for “heroic achievement.” He is married to Elizabeth Dole, who recently dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination for the presidency.
Clint Eastwood, star of shoot ’em ups and spaghetti westerns, movie director and former mayor of Carmel, Calif.
According to his biography, Eastwood worked at a number of jobs – among them, haybailer, lumberjack, truck driver, furnaceman at a steel mill and invoice filler at a Boeing plant – before becoming a movie star. (His first film was “Revenge of the Creature.”) Eastwood also starred in the long-running CBS western, “Rawhide,” and in a number of respected films, including “Kelly’s Heroes.” He won a directing Oscar for the 1992 movie “Unforgiven.” He was elected mayor of Carmel in 1986 and served one term.
Jesse Ventura, governor of minnesota, professional wrestler, boa wearer, actor and former mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Born James Janos, Ventura joined the Navy after high school, serving six years, including a tour in Viet Nam. Ventura changed his name when he began his career as a professional wrestler under the moniker, “Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura.” He wrestled for 11 years before retiring to Hollywood where he appeared in several films, including “Predator” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1990, groups concerned about the destruction of a local wetlands area encouraged Ventura to run for mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota’s sixth largest city. He served until 1995. He was elected the state’s 38th governor on Nov. 3, 1998, becoming the first Reform Party candidate to win statewide office. His victory over St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and the state’s attorney general, Hubert Humphrey III, shocked the nation. His approval ratings recently dropped in the wake of a controversial interview in Playboy magazine.
Sonny Bono, singer, entertainer, famous divorcˆ, Former U.S. Congressman and former mayor of Palm Springs, Calif.
Bono was driving a meat truck in Detroit when he recorded “Needles and Pins” and became a singing sensation. He became a star after recording “Baby, Don’t Go” with his girlfriend, Cherilyn Sarkisian (Cher). The two of them starred in CBS’s top-rated “Sonny and Cher Show” from 1971 until 1974. After his breakup with Cher, Bono opened a string of popular Italian restaurants. Then, frustrated with what he called a “failure of leadership,” he launched into politics, winning the Palm Springs mayoral race in 1988 by the largest margin in the city’s history. In 1991, Bono ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate but bounced back with a victory in the 1994 race for California’s 44th Congressional District. He died in a skiing accident in 1998. His widow, Mary, won a special election for his congressional seat.
Andrew Johnson, professional politician, president of the United States from 1865-1869. First president to be impeached, former mayor of Greeneville, Tenn.
Johnson began his political career in 1808, winning election to the Greeneville mayor’s office. In quick succession, he was elected to the state house of representatives, the state senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Tennessee governor’s office and the U.S. Senate. An adept speaker and populist, he became vice president in Abraham Lincoln’s second term and president upon his assassination. His sympathetic views toward the South during Reconstruction made him an unpopular man in Washington, and, in 1868, he was impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate acquitted him by one vote. Tennesseans returned Johnson to the Senate in 1875, but he died a few months later.
Calvin Coolidge, professional politician, President of the United States from 1923-1929, former mayor of Northampton, Mass.
Like Andrew Johnson, Coolidge led a political life. First elected to the Northampton, Mass., city council, he eventually won the governor’s race in that state. Coolidge became president upon Warren Harding’s 1923 death, taking the oath of office from his father, a notary public. As president, Coolidge was thoroughly conservative and isolationist. He believed the federal government should keep its hands off the economy and vetoed relief bills that would have helped the country’s struggling farmers. Noted for his laconic personality, Coolidge’s reply to a young woman who bet she could get three words of conversation out of him is legendary. “You lose,” he said.
Henry Cisneros, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, former San Antonio, Texas, mayor
In 1981, Cisneros became the first Hispanic mayor of a major American city when he was elected to office in San Antonio. (He had previously served on the city council.) He was elected president of the National League of Cities in 1985, and, in 1993, President Clinton appointed him secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He stepped down in 1997 amid charges that he lied to FBI agents about money paid to his former mistress. Under an agreement reached in September, Cisneros agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor in exchange for a $10,000 fine and no jail time.
Spiro Agnew, vice president in the Nixon Administration, former Baltimore County, Md., chief executive
In 1973, Agnew became the first vice president to resign the office with a criminal record, after being fined for tax evasion. The charges stemmed from a history of kickbacks for construction contracts that began when Agnew was the Baltimore County, Md., chief executive and continued into his vice presidency. Agnew had been elected to the county office in 1962, winning office in overwhelmingly Democratic Baltimore by running as a Republican reformer. Democrats also supported him in his successful 1966 race for the state’s governorship. Agnew is probably best known for a series of snarly speeches he made as vice president; in one, he referred to critics of the Viet Nam war as “an effete corps of impudent snobs.”
Harry Truman, popular 33rd president, Jackson county, Mo., court judge
Truman became president upon FDR’s death in April 1945 at a time when the world was inching into the Cold War. Once a farmer and haberdasher, the Missouri native got his start in politics when he was elected a judge of the Jackson County, Mo., Court in 1922. Truman was elected to the Senate in 1934, heading that body’s war investigating committee during WWII. As president, he ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and witnessed the signing of the United Nations charter. He also proposed the expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program and a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act. Truman was responsible for the Berlin airlift in 1948, which supplied West Germans with necessities during a Russian blockade of the country. He also helped establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.
Janet Reno, controversial attorney general and former Dade County, Fla., prosecutor
Reno became the first woman attorney general of the United States when she took office in 1993. Born in Miami (her father was a reporter for the Miami Herald), Reno grew up on the edge of the Everglades. She was named staff director of the state house’s Judiciary Committee in 1971 and, in 1973, was named counsel for the state senate committee charged with revising the criminal code. In 1978, Florida Governor Reuben Askew appointed her state attorney for Dade County, where she remained through five terms. As state attorney, Reno helped establish the Miami Drug Court, which provides alternative punishment for non-violent drug offenders, as well as prevention programs for children.