In a surprising plot twist in Hollywood's largest labor union, Ned Vaughn, a key figure in the campaign to merge Hollywood's actors unions, is resigning as executive vice president of SAG-AFTRA to run as a Republican candidate for the California Assembly.
Vaughn said he would seek an Assembly seat in the 66th district, representing L.A. County's South Bay, an unexpected career move for the veteran actor who has been an influential figure in the formation of SAG-AFTRA, which was established a year ago and has about 165,000 members. Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat, currently represents the 66th District.
Vaughn was elected to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) board of directors in 2008 and quickly rose to become the guild's first vice president in 2010.
Following the merger, Vaughn was named executive vice president of SAG-AFTRA, serving as the second-ranking and only Republican national officer of the union.
Vaughn, who lives in Rancho Palos Verdes with his wife and five children, cited his children’s future as the primary reason for his entry into public service. He is known for his roles in “The Hunt for Red October,” “Apollo 13,” “The Tuskegee Airmen” and “24.”
“California used to be the land of opportunity, where the Republican ideals of improvement through a quality public education, hard work and individual achievement could provide a good life for people and their families. Today, hard work and individual achievement are undermined by those who champion higher taxes and bigger government,” said Vaughn. “State government and the Democrat majority are wasting money, over-regulating small businesses and leading California down a path to mediocrity. I’m running for State Assembly to change that."
Vaughn's term as executive vice president was set to expire at SAG-AFTRA's inaugural convention, to be held Sept. 26-29 in Los Angeles.
“Ned has been a driving force behind many of our greatest successes, in particular the years-long effort to merge our two unions," SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard said. "There would not be a united SAG-AFTRA without his dedication and commitment. He's a tremendous leader and I’m sorry to see him go, but wish him all the best in his new endeavor.”
Although many Hollywood union leaders have clashed with the Republican Party over perceived assaults on organized labor, Vaughn said he does not see any inconsistency between his union background and his GOP candidacy.
"It puts the lie to the idea that all Republicans are completely anti-union," Vaughn said in an interview. "What I did at SAG-AFTRA really hewed to my Republican principles. I came into a situation where members weren't served. The situation was one of wasteful, excessive spending. The consolidation of these unions created a more efficient and effective organization that increased the power of members. That's good business."
Vaughn was praised by U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), of Bakersfield. “Ned Vaughn is the type of leader California needs: a proven problem-solver and an effective communicator who can give voice to millions of Californians who are tired of seeing our state fall behind,” said McCarthy.
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