USAN announces slate of 14 candidates; 12 are incumbents

The United Screen Actors Nationwide — which has dominated the seats repping New York on SAG’s national board in recent years — has announced a slate of 14 candidates for the board, including comedian Lewis Black.

Slate is composed of a dozen incumbents, including current SAG prexy Ken Howard and secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino, and a pair of newcomers — Black and thesp Ezra Knight (“Law and Order”).

Black said Tuesday that he had joined the USAN slate to promote merging SAG with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. Reps of the two unions have been hammering out a merger plan for presentation to the national boards in January.

“I’m running with USAN for a simple reason: they are committed to uniting SAG and AFTRA, and I want to help them make it happen,” Black said.

The USAN slate includes New York division president Mike Hodge and national board incumbents Mark Blum, Rebecca Damon and Traci Godfrey. Other USAN candidates are Manny Alfaro, Dave Bachman, Marc Baron, Jay Potter, John Rothman and Kevin Scullin; all are currently on the New York division board and serve as national board alternates.

New York reps have about 25% of the seats on the 71-member national board. Ballots will go out next month and results of the voting will be announced in late September.

USAN has been allied with the moderate wing of the national board, which has come to dominate during the past three years with the emergence of the Unite for Strength faction in Hollywood as it’s taken over from the self-styled progressives of the Membership First faction. USAN has faced little opposition in recent New York elections.

Both USAN and Unite for Strength have been strong supporters of the merger and Howard has focused much of his efforts toward laying the groundwork for the combination.

“NY President Mike Hodge and the USAN team are the right choice for the New York members who want one union now,” Howard said Tuesday. “Under USAN’s leadership, SAG renewed and strengthened our historic partnership with AFTRA and in just a few months we’ll be making the most crucial decision about our future as one union.”

About a third of the 71 seats on the SAG board are up for re-election. SAG probably won’t announce the official candidates list until next week due to the need to check eligibility.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more