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SAG's Unite for Strength wins, but its leader Ned Vaughn loses

September 25, 2009 |  5:22 pm

The party wins but one of its leaders gets left in the cold?

That's one of the surprising outcomes from yesterday's Screen Actors Guild election.

The so-called moderate faction known as Unite for Strength garnered a big victory yesterday when its candidate, veteran character actor Ken Howard, won a decisive victory in the presidential contest, soundly defeating his principal challenger, Anne-Marie Johnson, from the Membership First group that swept control of the union four years ago.

In addition, Unite for Strength won four additional seats on the 69-member national board, and 17 of the 22 seats for alternate board members in Hollywood who serve on the national board when regulars can't attend.

So why didn't one of the leaders of the group and its chief spokesman, Ned Vaughn, make the cut? Vaughn lost his position as an alternate board member.

Part of the reason might be that in Screen Actors Guild elections, perhaps more than any other guild, name recognition counts. After all, these are actors. And it's no coincidence that the top vote-getters happened to also be the most famous actors, such as Ed Harris, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner -- all from the Membership First ticket.

Like many working actors, Vaughn, despite nearly 60 credits to his name and having appeared in such shows as "Cane," "Commander in Chief" and "24," isn't exactly a household name.

Still, there were several other lesser known actors who still got elected to the board. A further explanation might lie in the fact that Vaughn was also targeted by by his opponents precisely because of his high profile role last year in helping to stage a boardroom coup against the former leadership. One anonymous e-mail urged SAG members to vote for anyone except Ned Vaughn. Johnson also singled out Vaughn in her campaign.

For his part, Vaughn took the loss in stride, joking that he'd have more time now to spend with his family, and looks to the big picture. "It's about a movement, not any individual,'' he said. "I'll continue to be in the mix."

-- Richard Verrier