EXCLUSIVE: Candidates backed by Fran Drescher in local SAG-AFTRA elections are racking up impressive wins as early results from around the country continue to come in. Candidates that her Unite for Strength slate deem “Drescher-friendly” already have won in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston-Austin, Miami, the Missouri Valley, Portland, San Francisco, the Twin Cities and elsewhere.
Members backed by the opposition MembershipFirst slate have won just a handful of races thus far.
Today, members of the union’s Michigan Local re-elected Erik Wydra as president, who Drescher endorsed in a campaign video in which she said: “You must, must, must vote for Eric Wydra for Michigan Local president. He’s been an incredible leader locally and nationally.” Wydra got 132 votes, defeating challenger Franco Pulice, who received 55 votes. Three of the four convention delegates Drescher endorsed also won there.
Only 11 of the union’s 25 locals have completed their elections so far, while the big-ticket contests won’t be decided until September 2, when members will elect a new national president and secretary-treasurer, and a whole raft of officers and board members in New York and Los Angeles.
Drescher is running for national president with her running mate Anthony Rapp, who are facing off against presidential candidate Matthew Modine and his running mate Joely Fisher on the MembershipFirst slate.
In a local race that shows every vote counts, Henry Ian Cusick has been elected to the SAG-AFTRA national board representing Hawaii, defeating incumbent Scott Rogers by only five votes – 142 to 138. Cusick was endorsed by Modine and his MembershipFirst slate, while Rogers was backed by Drescher’s Unite for Strength ruling party.
MembershipFirst won again today in Nevada, where Mitchell Bobrow, who was backed by Modine’s slate, won a national board seat there, and Kim Renee, who way also supported by Modine, was elected president of the local without opposition.
But the vast majority of local presidents and national board candidates who have won so far have been Drescher supporters.
In Chicago, Courtney Rioux handily won the national board race there with the backing of Drescher, who posted a video endorsing her candidacy. Rioux received 475 votes to D.B. Sweeney’s 234. Sweeney was backed by MembershipFirst.
Four uncontested national board races in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, the Twin Cities and Washington D.C give Drescher’s Unite for Strength party the early edge in holding on to power in the national boardroom, where they already hold about two-thirds of the 69 seats. Running unopposed, Dan Navarro was re-elected to the national board from Los Angeles, representing singers/recording artists; Hector Garcia was re-elected to the national board in Dallas-Fort Worth; Randal Berger was re-elected to the national board in the Twin Cities; and Jack Speer was elected to the national board in Washington-Mid Atlantic representing broadcasters.
Victorious local presidential candidates who were backed by Drescher’s Unite for Strength party include Charles Andrew Gardner in Chicago, Katheryn Howell in San Francisco, Andrea Sikkink in Hawaii and — running unopposed — Marc Comstock in New Mexico; Mykle McCoslin in Houston-Austin; Michelle Damis in Portland; Kathryn Klvana in Washington, D.C.; Brent Anderson in Dallas-Fort Worth; Joe Corcoran in Arizona-Utah; John M. McKarthy in Miami and Michael Montgomery in Nashville.
Besides Los Angeles, a stronghold for MembershipFirst, and New York, a stronghold for Unite for Strength, other SAG-AFTRA locals that still are voting to elect their local officers and board members include Arizona-Utah, Atlanta, Colorado, Michigan, Nashville, Nevada, New England, New Mexico, New Orleans, Ohio-Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Washington-Mid Atlantic.