'70s Golden Age Actor Running for U.S. Senate Seat

Tod Hunter
ASHLAND, Ky. — Actor Sonny Landham, who starred in several '70s Golden Age movies before moving on to mainstream acting, is running for the U.S. Senate seat of Republican Mitch McConnell as a Libertarian.

Landham's adult film credits include "Slippery When Wet," "The Switch," "The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann" and the title role in "Big Abner." His mainstream appearances have included parts in TV shows "Miami Vice," "The Fall Guy" and "The A-Team," and films including John Cassavetes' 1980 "Gloria," "Predator," "48 Hrs," "Poltergeist" and "Southern Comfort."

To qualify for the November ballot, Landham must collect at least 5,000 valid signatures on petitions by Aug. 12. State Libertarian Party Chairman Ken Moellman said the petition drive began recently and he believes Landham will make it. When asked by reporters if his past in adult films would hurt him politically, Landham replied, "What can I do? That was a part of my life you cannot call back. If I was going to do it now — knowing that I'm going to have four children, knowing that I was going to run for office — no, I wouldn't make that choice. But at the time I made the choice of getting a paycheck, staying alive for your big break."

He also served more than 2 1/2 years in federal prison after being convicted of making threatening and obscene phone calls to his ex-wife, a conviction that was thrown out by a federal appeals court that found he committed no crime.

Landham considered running for governor as a Republican in 2003, then left the GOP and promised to run as an independent. He ultimately stayed out and backed Republican Ernie Fletcher, who won.

"I'm not sure which is more of a hurdle for Landham, being a former porn actor or being a Libertarian Party candidate," political scientist Michael Baranowski of Northern Kentucky University said. "But if the race between McConnell and [Democratic challenger Bruce] Lunsford is tight enough, the votes Landham pulls from McConnell might be critical."

A recent poll showed voters opting 50 percent for McConnell, 46 percent for Lunsford, and 4 percent undecided.