The possibility of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson running for President someday is a story that has continually popped up for the past seven years. Really since former President Donald Trump was elected. Trump was characterized by some as a “celebrity” and that led to multiple articles contemplating whether Johnson, one of the most well-known celebrities on the planet, could in fact run for the Oval Office someday.
If this ever happens it would likely be a future election, not the current race for 2024. Johnson has never really been involved in politics. He does have some managerial experience, however, as both a movie producer and running the XFL with his ex-wife Danny Garcia. He’s also been involved in several other business ventures over the years.
THE STORY REALLY BEGAN IN 2017
Following the inauguration of former President Trump in January of 2017 there were a slough of articles that began to circulate on Johnson possibly running someday. These are just a few of the articles that circulated in 2017:
But this trend didn’t end with the 2017 speculative articles. As time went by there was actual political polling done on Johnson.
Not sure our Founding Fathers ever envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club - but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve the people 🙏🏾💪🏾🇺🇸 https://t.co/6Xd9ADzqX7— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 9, 2021
This was Johnson’s tweet following the first round of polling: “Not sure our Founding Fathers ever envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club - but if it ever happens it’d be my honor to serve the people”, tweeted Johnson in April 2021.
“MORE POISE, LESS NOISE”
Following the round of initial articles, Johnson made a few statements that seemed very intriguing on both Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
First, the SNL monologue in 2017 was Johnson’s fifth time hosting the comedy show. He was joined on stage by Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks.
Toward the end of the monologue Johnson was on stage joking with Hanks about the possibility of running for President when he inserted this line: “More poise, less noise”. The line seemed out of place in the monologue and sounded like a scripted campaign slogan. It obviously was playing up on the political discord in the country at that at time.
But the line would quickly pop up again. Johnson joined Jimmy Fallon around this time and repeated the same line: “More poise, less noise” when discussing a potential Presidential run. It sounded a lot more like a planned political catch phrase than a comedic one.
“YOUNG ROCK” DEBUTS
In February of 2021 NBC debuted a new sitcom “Young Rock”. The family sitcom chronicles Johnson’s life in three separate stages: Young childhood, teenage years and as a young adult getting into wrestling.
The premise of the show is he’s telling these old stories to a reporter in the year 2032 when he’s running for President. The show has run for three seasons and continues to be a success for NBC.
It’s unclear if the premise for the show is just based off the news stories about Johnson or there’s a subtle hint that he’s taking a potential Presidential run seriously.
Quite recently Johnson did say he’s seriously considered a run.
In an interview this past October, Johnson said: “I have seriously considered it. You have to. When you start looking at some of these polls, and these numbers creep up into the 46%, 50% of the country would vote for me should I run, and I have been – I’ve been really moved by that.”
THERE IS PRECEDENT FOR CELEBRITIES RUNNING FOR OFFICE
Beyond former President Donald Trump who we mentioned above there have been numerous other politicians who were known more for being celebrities than politicians.
Here are a few:
- Ronald Reagan – well before he ran for President the former actor announced his run for Governor of California in 1966. Reagan for years had been speaking publicly about politics and was former president of the Screen Actors Guild and began leaning more Republican during the 1950s.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger – first announced his run for Governor of California in 2003. Had become more outspoken in Republican politics in the years prior being both involved with both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush
- Jesse Ventura – before he ran for Governor of Minnesota he was Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota following his career as a wrestler and actor
- Al Franken – Prior to entering the race for Senate in Minnesota in 2007, Franken had been outspoken on politics for years and was a personality on left-leaning “Air America” following his departure from Saturday Night Live
- Dr. Oz – Prior to running for Senate in Pennsylvania in 2022 he had minimal experience in politics but had donated to Republicans and was appointed to the President’s Council on Sports by former President Trump. He was removed under the Biden Administration.
JOHNSON’S ONLY OPTION ISN’T PRESIDENT
It’s feasible Johnson could run for a lower-tier office. He has been a resident of Florida, so a few options are out there: Florida Senate, Florida Governor or Mayor of Miami. It’s unlikely someone of his star-power would run for a lesser office like a state level office or the U.S. House.
As far as Florida Senate, Senator Marco Rubio was recently re-elected and will be in office until at least 2029. For the other Senator Rick Scott, his term ends in 2025. Whoever wins the election that year would serve, and the seat would open again in 2031.
Francis Suarez is current Mayor of Miami. He won re-election in 2021 for a second term with an overwhelming 78% of the vote. His term ends in 2025.
As far as Florida Governor, that office’s future is a little more difficult to predict. Governor Ron DeSantis’ term would end at the beginning of 2027. But there is a lot of speculation right now about whether he’ll enter the race for President. If at some point DeSantis had to leave the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez would serve out the remainder of his term. After that, it would be a fresh election in 2026 with no incumbent on the ballot.
If Johnson does run for a lower office than President, it’s implied he would automatically be the most visible person in any political race he enters. Not only would he get massive state and local media attention wherever he’s running but also national press would follow his campaign relentlessly.
WHAT HIS FIRST STEPS WOULD BE
If Johnson chose to run for President the first decision would involve choosing a political party. He could run as a Democrat, Republican or try running as an independent.
If Johnson chose to run as an independent the only real template in modern American history would be that of Ross Perot who ran for President twice in 1992 and 1996.
In those races the outspoken Texas billionaire polled even at one point with the other two primary candidates. Perot relied on grassroots support to spur petition drives and supporters got enough signatures to get him on the ballot. He was so successful he made the debate stage in ‘92 against George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and then against Clinton and Bob Dole in 1996.
Despite an early surge for Perot in 1992 he only garnered 18.9% of the vote and didn’t carry any state. In 1996, he fared even worse and only garnered 8.4% of the vote and again did not carry any state.
So, beyond that Johnson could consider choosing a political party. He has remained relatively non-political for most of his career but did venture somewhat into politics in 2020 when he publicly supported Joe Biden for President. While that did not cause any unhappiness on the Democratic side of the aisle he did receive criticism from some Trump supporters.
If he chose a party, Johnson’s first job would be to hire a campaign staff to get him on the primary ballot in all the early states. Right now, the first states on the GOP side are Iowa and New Hampshire. The Democrats have changed their primary schedule and now the first states are South Carolina and Nevada. Johnson’s broad-based appeal would probably fare well in all those states. He would need to hire state campaign managers for those early states along with a national campaign apparatus. This can cost a lot of money but Johnson would likely be ahead of the game easily able to get fundraising due to his celebrity status and he would also easily get a lot of “free media”. Meaning the press would inevitably cover him constantly and he wouldn’t struggle to get out his message.
POLITICS IS THE REAL “BLOOD SPORT”
For Johnson to enter the national political arena with a run for President would involve serious soul searching and likely a conversation with his family. Entering into the political realm would mean Johnson would have to deal with unprecedented criticism from political opponents and members of the press. Every serious contender for the Presidency has to deal with this.
It’s feasible Johnson could reach out to other politicians who had little experience or only served a short time like former Presidents Obama, Trump or other people like Dr. Oz, Linda McMahon or Arnold Schwarzenegger. “If you think it’s rough and tumble on a football field or in a wrestling match, get ready for politics,” said News4JAX Political Analyst Rick Mullaney. “Very, very difficult. And that public scrutiny, that public criticism is not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly is not for everybody. And you have to be ready for yourself and your family to go through that gauntlet.”
The political microscope would be intense and look at everything Johnson has been involved with from his acting career to any controversial wrestling angles he was involved in. People he was associated with could also be approached by nosy reporters like ex-wrestlers or other actors he worked with. Particularly if there was a notable name in the wrestling or acting world who had a beef with Johnson in the past political opponents could use that.
Johnson also has three children. Two of them are under the age of 10. So, if he ran in four or eight years they would be coming into their teenage years and he would have to determine the impact a Presidential run would have on them. That includes both public scrutiny as well as an intense travel schedule campaigning all over the country.
JOHNSON WOULD NEED TO GO TO “SCHOOL”
“School” in the figurative meaning. Johnson has said he doesn’t know politics. “I don’t know anything about politics,” Johnson said in an October 2022 interview. “I will say that I – absolutely, I’m a patriot, and I love our country and I love everybody in it, regardless of color or culture. Don’t care what your bank account says or what kind of car you drive.”
Other celebrities who entered politics like Ventura, Trump and Reagan all became a lot more outspoken on political issues of the days before they decided to run. Johnson would likely need to work with political strategists about defining his views on hot button issues of the day. That could include numerous issues from international diplomacy to tax policy to abortion.
“He has a lot going for him but there are challenges and these are one of the challenges,” said Mullaney. “That is relatively inexperienced when it comes to the issues.”
And if you want to watch for signs that he’s really running in four or eight years something to watch out for is if he starts to become more outspoken politically. Most every other celebrity who entered politics at some level spent years speaking out on policy and developing political positions. That will be the cue that he may enter politics some day.
SOME WRESTLING FUN IF HE WINS
Being that this is an article for the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” wrestling podcast we decided to build our own “Fantasy Presidential Cabinet” if Johnson won and only named wrestling figures to his cabinet. Here’s who we decided he would tap:
VICE PRESIDENT – PAUL HEYMAN
SECRETARY OF STATE – MIRO/RUSEV
SECRETARY OF TREASURY – TED DIBIASE
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE – SGT SLAUGHTER
ATTORNEY GENERAL – DAVID OTUNGA
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE – HILLBILLY JIM
SECRETARY OF COMMERCE - JBL
SECRETARY OF HHS – DR. BRITT BAKER D.D.S.
SECRETARY OF HUD – BOOKER T
SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION – ALBERTO DEL RIO
SECRETARY OF ENERGY – THE SHOCKMASTER (google him)
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION- XAVIER WOODS (He has a master’s in psychology and a bachelor’s in philosophy
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS - LACEY EVANS (former Marine)
SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY - ROMAN REIGNS (he was in Shield)
SECRETARY OF THE EPA - BRYAN DANIELSON
CHIEF OF STAFF – THE MIZ
PRESS SECRETARY – IRON SHEIK