MichMash: Do You Care About Celebrity Endorsements? Or Should We ‘Terminate’ Them?

WDET Digital

With the November election just around the corner, candidates for office and campaigns for and against ballot proposals are doing everything they can to win votes.

Lately, those efforts have included recruiting celebrities to bolster those political messages. 

The Mitten state has gotten attention on Twitter from actors such as Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano. We’ve seen visits from the likes of Ted Nugent and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jennifer Lawrence even made a video about Proposal 2 on the statewide ballot.

As part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about this wave of celebrity endorsements washing over Michigan. Do they matter? Does anyone really care?

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

This isn’t anything new in Michigan

Back in 2012, now-Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, then a candidate, enlisted her sister Mary McCormack to help out her campaign.

Mary McCormack is an actress, known for her role on Aaron Sorkin’s NBC political drama series The West Wing. She reunited the cast of that show to cut a campaign ad for Bridget Mary McCormack.

Seriously, though, who casts a vote based on what some Hollywood celebrity thinks?

Probably not too many people. These are very easily ignored by the average voter.

But that doesn’t mean these endorsements hold no value to campaigns.

These kinds of endorsements give campaigns what we in the biz call “earned media” — the kind of promotion a campaign gets without having to pay for it. They get attention, maybe even headlines in a local newspaper, that keeps their message and image in front of an audience of voters.

There’s also a school of thought that says these can backfire. For some voters, the thought of a celebrity in Beverly Hills telling you who to vote for in Michigan might be off-putting. But campaigns seem to think the risk of that kind of reaction is worth the earned media time.

One celebrity’s advice for all voters…

Thomas Sadoski is an actor known for his roles in HBO’s The Newsroom (another Aaron Sorkin show) and the CBS series Life in Pieces. He’s also been weighing in on Michigan politics as a personal friend of Democratic nominee for Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson.

Sadoski says voters are right to be leery of what he calls celebrity “carpetbagger” endorsements. But he does have a list of five questions every voter should ask before they cast a vote for any given politician.

  1. What power will this candidate get?
  2. Where will this candidate get it from?
  3. In whose interests will this candidate exercise that power?
  4. To whom will this candidate be accountable?
  5. How can we get rid of you?

Finally, here’s your weekly MichMash reminder to check out your sample ballot before you vote on November 6.

Image credit: Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Filed Under: #MichMash

This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

WDET is committed to providing honest, fair, inclusive coverage of Michigan's 2018 elections. Join us now and all the way to the voting booth to be an informed voter.


This post is a part of MichMash.

Each week, WDET's Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio's Cheyna Roth un-jumble Michigan issues and talk about how statewide news stories affect you. 

About the Author

Jake Neher

Detroit Today - Producer & Special Projects Reporter

Jake Neher is a producer & reporter for Detroit Today

Jake.Neher@wdet.org   Follow @GJNeher

Cheyna Roth


Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She’s also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

CRoth@MPRN.org   Follow @Cheyna_R

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