Melissa Gilbert Is Running For Congress, But The 'Little House On The Prairie' Actress Faces An Uphill Battle
Donald Trump is no longer the only TV star to tackle American politics — on Monday, Little House On The Prairie actress Melissa Gilbert announced she's running for Congress via Twitter. Gilbert, who rose to prominence for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder, will be running as a Democrat against freshman Republican Rep. Mike Bishop in Michigan's 8th Congressional District. According to Gilbert's campaign website, supporting working families is her ultimate goal. She has also announced that her candidacy will be all about providing "fresh voices" to the ongoing discussion on economic improvement.
"I'm running for Congress to make life a little easier for all the families who feel they have fallen through the cracks in today's economy," Gilbert states on her campaign website. "I believe building a new economy is a team effort, and we need to bring fresh voices to the table to get the job done."
Gilbert's announcement may be surprising to many, but it shouldn't be; she's certainly involved herself in politics before this. In 2014, the actress campaigned for Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, and between 2001 and 2005, she served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild. President Ronald Reagan arguably found his political voice serving as the Guild's president from 1947 through 1954.
However, Gilbert will certainly face a bit of an uphill battle. Michigan's 8th congressional district, which spans from northern Detroit suburbs to the state capital of Lansing, has been dominated by the GOP for 15 years. According to CNN, Bishop won 54 percent of the vote in the most recent election against a Democratic opponent, and since Gilbert's announcement just earlier Monday, Bishop and his staff are already on the offensive.
His campaign spokesman Stu Sandler almost immediately called out Gilbert, alleging the Prairie actress owed $360,000 to the IRS in back taxes. Sandler told CNN, "Melissa Gilbert can afford to have a stylist and a Louis Vuitton collar for her dog, but cannot pay her taxes. Her Hollywood values are out of whack with the district." His comments allude to a January 2014 interview in which Gilbert revealed that her (adorable) French bull dog had a stylist and a Louis Vuitton collar.
To this, the Associated Press reports Gilbert has since responded that her "stalled acting career, the economy, and divorce" all contributed to her tax debt. In June, Gilbert explained to The Detroit News that she had worked out a payment plan with the IRS. Right now, it's unclear whether or not her financial struggles or "Hollywood values," as Sandler put it, will hurt her campaign.