Jerry Springer hasn’t run for political office since 1982, but he’s thought about it several times. After being defeated for his initial gubernatorial run in the ’80s, Spring contemplated subsequent runs for other offices in the early aughts, but was worried his reputation as a tabloid TV superstar would damage his campaign. Now there’s a faction of Ohio Democrats who think the time is right for Jerry Springer to transition back to politics after his long career in journalism and television.
Springer — who recently said Trump is too theatrical — might be best known for playing middleman to family squabbles on television and refereeing between parents and children, swingers and sex workers, not to mention occasional gender fluid individuals (who were referred to less kindly in the transphobic ’90s). But before that 1982 election, Springer had several city council seats under his belt, along with a one year stint as the mayor of Cincinnati.
He lost the 1982 primary despite a campaign emphasis on honesty, in which Springer confronted head on 1974 disgrace involving a prostitute, as the New York Times recalled during the 1982 election. That scandal lead to his resignation from the first Cincinnati city council he served on, but his political career later bounced back for close to a decade. He’s one of the few politicians at any level to survive a sex scandal, which might seem a little ironic given the direction his career would go a couple decades later.
Now that Springer’s pop culture power has waned from the great heights at which he was lampooned by Weird Al Yankovich, he might be able to turn his former daytime television career into an asset, rather than a liability. Business Insider reports that there are “half a dozen” notable Democrats who feel that Springer is their party’s answer to Donald Trump, capable of raising his own funds and of connecting to Ohio’s blue collar constituents.
Springer himself acknowledges the fresh appeal he has in an era when a former reality TV star is sitting in the Oval Office. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “What’s probably giving it more juice this time is the Trump victory. People are thinking that somebody outside the traditional political establishment can win. His constituency is basically mine. These are fans of the show. I could be Trump without the racism.”
It’s not clear yet, though, what level of interest Springer (now in his 70s) has in running for office. Reports from party members hopeful for a Springer campaign suggest he’s happy to discuss the possibilities with power brokers, but hasn’t committed to anything yet. Tim Burke, an Ohio Democratic and chair of the Hamilton County party, told Business Insider that he doesn’t “think Jerry has said no, but he certainly hasn’t said yes, either. On the other hand, he’s been into a good number of our Democratic county party organization events, a good number of them recently have been in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District.”
The murmurs have gotten loud enough, however, that Springer himself spoke up in a statement to Business Insider:
“The issue of me running for political office frequently comes up because I am constantly touring around, giving speeches and raising money for the party. Truthfully, I’ve been doing that for at least the last 30 years as a private citizen because I believe joining the conversation is part of being a good citizen. If I do ever decide to throw my hat in the ring…I will let people know. At this point … I don’t even have a hat.”
(Via Business Insider)