Politicians With Unconventional Past Careers
These 13 politicians currently in office took the road less traveled on the journey into politics.
Public service, business, law, and education are the most commonly listed occupations for members of Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service profile of the 114th Congress. From an astronaut to a comedian, these members of Congress, governors, and presidential candidates had unconventional jobs before and sometimes during their terms in public office.
Sen. Al Franken: Comedian Before entering the Senate in 2009, Democrat Al Franken spent 37 years as a comedy writer, author, and radio talk show host, appearing on "Saturday Night Live." (Thos Robinson/Getty Images) Rep. Jim Jordan: Wrestling Coach Repubiican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio first made a name for himself as a wrestling champion in high school and later in college, as a student athlete at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, Jordan worked as the assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State. (Bloomberg AFP/Getty) Lincoln Chafee: Horseshoe blacksmith Lincoln Chafee, Democratic presidential candidate, has served as a mayor, governor, and senator from Rhode Island, but before he ran for public office, he worked for seven years as a horseshoe blacksmith at racetracks throughout the country. After graduating from Brown University, Chafee attended Montana State University's Horseshoeing School. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) Rep. Rick Crawford: Rodeo Announcer While attending Arkansas State University, GOP Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas worked as a rodeo announcer, a job he continued after graduating before focusing on a career in agriculture. (crawford.house.gov) Rep. Norma Torres: 911 Dispatcher One of Democratic Rep. Norma Torres's first jobs was as a 911 dispatcher. While on the job, Torres (left) began a movement to hire bilingual dispatchers. Originally from Guatemala, Torres and her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was 5 years old. (torres.house.gov) Sen. Bernie Sanders: Folk Singer In 1987, Bernie Sanders recorded a folk album titled "We Shall Overcome" that included just five songs. Not quite singing, Sanders contributed to the songs by interjecting spoken-word lyrics. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) Sen. Bill Nelson: Astronaut Few members of Congress can say they've been to space, but Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida was an astronaut. Already a member of the House, Nelson launched into space in 1986, spending six days in the Earth's orbit. (billnelson.senate.gov) Rep. Mia Love: Flight Attendant Rep. Mia Love made history in Utah when she became the first black, female mayor elected in the state's history, but the Haitian-born Republican probably wouldn't have made it to Utah without her first job as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. She permanently relocated to Utah after meeting her husband there. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) Rep. Donald Norcross: Electrician Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross of New Jersey (right) began his career as an electrician, which led him to become a union leader in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and eventually president of the South New Jersey AFL-CIO. (donaldnorcorssforcongress.com ) Rep. Mike Kelly: Auto Dealer GOP Rep. Mike Kelly's name may be recognizable in Pennsylvania because of his public office, but residents may also recognize the member of Congress from the car dealerships that bear his name. After college, Kelly (right) moved back to his hometown of Butler to work at his father's car dealership before taking ownership in the 1990s. (kelly.house.gov) Rep. Robert Brady: Carpenter After graduating from St. Thomas More High School in Philadelphia, Democratic Rep. Robert Brady (center, in blue coat) found work as a carpenter. After joining and eventually leading the Carpenters' Union, Brady was moved to run for public office, joining Congress in 2011. (Congressman Robert Brady Facebook) Gov. John Hickenlooper: Geologist Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's segue into politics was perhaps unusual for a politician but fitting for a Colorado native. He began his career as a geologist, and later opened a series of breweries and restaurants in Denver. Hickenlooper became the mayor of Colorado in 2003, a position he held for eight years before running for governor. (John Hickenlooper Instagram ) Gov. David Ige: Electrical Engineer Hawaii's Democratic Gov. David Ige worked for 34 years as an electrical engineer. His political career began when then-Gov. George Ariyoshi appointed him to fill a vacant seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives. (David Ige Facebook )