Melissa Gilbert made her name in Hollywood at a very young age, playing Laura Ingalls in the television show “Little House on the Prairie.” She acted, directed, and served as President of the Screen-Actors’ Guild (SAG) from 2001-2005.
After marrying actor Timothy Busfeld, she moved to Michigan.
In late 2015, she announced a run for Congress, saying that someone had to make sure that all voices could be heard:
“I’m running for Congress to make life a little easier for all the families who feel they have fallen through the cracks in today’s economy. I believe building a new economy is a team effort, and we need to bring fresh voices to the table to get the job done.”
Mike Bishop, the incumbent Republican Gilbert hoped to unseat, came out swinging – calling Gilbert a “tax cheat”:
“Melissa Gilbert can afford to have a stylist for her dog, but cannot pay her taxes. Her values are out of whack with the district.”
Gilbert admitted that she did owe back taxes, blaming the economy, a divorce, and a stalled acting career, and said she had a payment plan with the IRS.
But then in May of this year, citing complications from several 2012 accidents (she suffered a fall on “Dancing with the Stars” and was under a balcony when it collapsed just weeks later), Gilbert announced that she was withdrawing from the race:
“My doctors said there’s no way for me to continue to deal with the incredibly rigorous demands of a congressional campaign without continuing to do harm to my body.”
As the election looms closer, however, Republicans in Michigan are fighting the state’s decision to remove Gilbert’s name from the ballot and replace her with a new candidate.
According to a letter written by state elections director Chris Thomas, Michigan law allows for candidates to be replaced following the deadline if the candidate becomes unfit following said deadline:
“Under Michigan’s election law, a congressional candidate may withdraw after having won the party’s nomination by notifying the party that he or she has become physically unfit.”
But lawyers for the Republican Party say that Gilbert did not submit adequate proof that she was unfit to serve, citing Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (who continued serving following a stroke) and quadriplegic Congressman Jim Langevin.
If the Michigan Democrats are successful in replacing Gilbert on the ballot, they intend to run prosecuting attorney Suzanna Shkreli in her place.
And Gilbert says the show isn’t over for her, regardless: “I’m too engaged at this point. I know too much, and there is so much that needs to be done in this district and this state and this country. That’s why I jumped into the race in the first place.”
Source: independent journal