Patricia Richardson Running for SAG-AFTRA President (EXCLUSIVE)

Patricia Richardson SAG AFTRA
Jim Spellman/WireImage

Patricia Richardson is challenging Ken Howard for the presidency of SAG-AFTRA as the head of the Membership First slate, Variety has learned exclusively.

The “Home Improvement” star, currently a national board member, has selected stuntwoman Jane Austin as her running mate for the secretary-treasurer post.

Membership First has been quietly gathering signatures in recent days for its nominating petitions, which are due at 5 p.m. PDT on Friday.

Howard announced on June 1 that he would seek re-election with endorsements coming from George Clooney, Bryan Cranston, Betty White, Rita Moreno, Octavia Spencer, Ron Perlman, Clark Gregg and Josh Gad. SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles VP Jenny O’Hara joined Howard, running for secretary-treasurer as part of the Unite for Strength and United Screen Actors Nationwide slates.

Election ballots will be mailed to members who are paid up on dues on July 21 and tabulated on August 20. Turnout in the 2013 election — the first for the merged SAG-AFTRA — was about 20.5%, with ballots mailed to 139,967 eligible voters.

Howard, 71, has headed SAG-AFTRA since it was created three years ago and easily defeated Esai Morales — who headed the Membership First slate — and two other challengers in 2013.

Howard was first elected as SAG president, positioning himself as a moderate and pragmatist, in 2009 and re-elected in 2011. He won both times on a platform advocating for the merger of SAG and AFTRA, which was overwhelmingly approved by members despite active opposition from Membership First.

Richardson, 64, is best known for her role as Jill Taylor during the eight-year run of “Home Improvement” during 1991-99 and was nominated four times for an Emmy in the lead actress in a comedy series. She also starred in “Strong Medicine” between 2002-05 and had a recurring role on the 2005-06 season of “The West Wing.”

Austin, a longtime Membership First activist, was Morales’ running mate two years ago. In that election, the self-styled progressives of the Membership First faction, which controlled the SAG board room from 2005 to 2008, won only a handful of seats on the 70-member national board.

For the 28 open national board seats representing Los Angeles, the only Membership First candidates elected were Austin, Morales, Richardson, Martin Sheen, Joanna Cassidy and the late Sumi Haru. Sheen, who received the most votes of all candidates, was elected to a four-year term as were Austin, Cassidy and Morales.

Since the merger, SAG-AFTRA leaders have opted to keep a low profile during negotiations on the union’s master contracts and eschewed attempting to mobilize the membership in support of bargaining positions. In recent months, however, Howard has led an effort urging members to refuse non-union work.

For its part, Membership First has remained largely silent on issues, other than blasting national executive director David White last year for becoming a candidate to head the National Basketball Players Assn. during the run-up to SAG-AFTRA’s film-TV negotiations. The players union eventually selected attorney Michelle Roberts for the post.

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  1. srvwp2013 says:

    The sharp end of the pencil which is used to mark the ballot in any election is to spur change. Elections are intended to clean house, bring fresh air into the polluted rooms, bring new growth into any given organization. It seems to have been forgotten that elected positions in any organization, be it SAG-AFTRA, or the Congress of the United States, are not life-time career positions. People should be stepping forward to lead, not for their own posterity, but simply to offer their services for a short and specified limited time. America used to was be “the land of opportunity.” Opportunity has been perverted into dynasticism and nepotism.

    • Absolutely, and if that wasn’t enough those same high-paid, high-functioning psychopaths seem to gather together with inpunity, letting ALL things Self-destructive to Amercia happen to their advantage; like new immigrants working here illegally, who don’t speak the language, don’t care about REAL American morales and values of yester-year; with 26-million something here eating away at America It can’t be an accident, its a dark agenda; think about it.

  2. Paul Edney says:

    As a former candidate for SAG-AFTRA National President, I wholeheartedly endorse Patricia Richardson for President and Jane Austin for Secretary/Treasurer. We need new blood at the top who can negotiate better contracts for members of our Union, and stop wasting Union money like $60 million in rent on a building that we should be buying instead, and the frivolous expenditure of $130,000 on a new logo that nobody likes. A vote for Ken Howard would be a wasted vote. Vote for Patricia instead.

  3. Matt Kavanaugh says:

    This is wonderful news for SAG-AFTRA. Patricia is knowledgeable, articulate, and truly cares about her fellow actors. She is the perfect candidate to help us move forward from the quagmire that is Ken Howard ‘ s presidency. Vote Patricia Richardson for President and Jane Austin for Secretary – Treasurer!

  4. SAG Actor says:

    I like Patricia Richardson. Even met her once and she was nice. But I’m definitely voting for Ken Howard. He’s got the respect of producers, got us to merger, faster residuals and 100% of TV rates for high budget new media in the last negotiation. He delivers. Best part about Howard.. he replaced Alan Rosenberg. Why is Membership First still around? They still trying to sue their own union every other week?

    • Sag actor too says:

      Hes got the respect of producers cuz hes in bed with them. He threw actors under the bus to satisfy producers. Why do think there’s a plague of non union work??? Because producers no longer respect actors anymore THANKS TO HOWARD!!! Producers don’t wanna pay the residuals actors deserve! THANKS TO HOWARD!! Rosenberg was 1000% pro actor, pro member. Made it his duty to make sure actors were able to make a living doing what they love!!! And he got muzzled and kicked out for that!
      You’re probably a unite for strength troll otherwise you’d see the damage that’s been done to membership and the union!! Pension and health STILL separate! Contracts STILL separate! Howard’s leadership is full of s***.

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