Drake Throws Hat in Ring for SAG President

Los Angeles (THR) -- A third horse has just been added to the upcoming race for president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Gordon Drake, a founding member of the SAG political faction formerly known as the Performers Alliance, said he filed a petition with the guild Thursday formally declaring his candidacy for the fall election.

Current president Melissa Gilbert, the former child star of "Little House on the Prairie," and treasurer Kent McCord, best known for his role as a cop on "Adam 12," announced their respective candidacies for president earlier this month.

"I am running on the position that the current celebrity candidates are polarizing the union on opposite sides of the spectrum and the rank-and-file need to be heard," said Drake, referring to Gilbert and McCord.

Petitions for the offices of president and secretary-treasurer, as well as the 24 available board seats, are due by July 25. Candidates become official once the signatures on the petition are validated by guild staff.

Drake served as the national strike coordinator during the 2000 actors strike against the advertising industry and, up until recently, was closely aligned with McCord.

McCord was a leading opponent of the plan to merge SAG with its sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), while Drake was in support of it. The merger plan was narrowly rejected by SAG members in a referendum this month.

Drake was against an equally controversial SAG proposal to permit talent agencies a greater financial interest in the TV production business, which rank-and-file members also defeated in a referendum last year.

McCord is running alongside board member "NYPD Blue" co-star Esai Morales, who will seek the newly created position of secretary-treasurer, while Gilbert is running alongside board member and veteran actor James Cromwell. Drake said he was running as an independent.

Ballots are scheduled to be sent out Aug. 26.