Actress Melissa Gilbert, best known for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on the 70s NBC drama Little House on the Prairie, announced Monday she will seek Michigan’s 8th Congressional District seat next November.
The 51-year-old mother of two, a Democrat, will challenge Republican Rep. Mike Bishop for the seat.
“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,” Gilbert wrote on her campaign website. “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.”
Bishop’s campaign manager Stu Sandler blasted Gilbert’s candidacy in a statement to CNN, saying the actress owes $300,000 in back taxes to the IRS.
“Melissa Gilbert can afford to have a stylist and a Louis Vitton collar for her dog, but cannot pay her taxes,” Sandler told CNN. “Her Hollywood values are out of whack with the district.”
Gilbert addressed her unpaid back taxes in a June interview with the Detroit News:
“Like so many people across the nation, the recession hit me hard,” Gilbert told the paper. “That, plus a divorce and a dearth of acting opportunities the last few years, created a perfect storm of financial difficulty for me.”
“I’ve set up an installment plan to fully pay off my debt and will continue to work as hard as I can to erase the debt and dig myself out of this hole,” the actress said.
Gilbert and her husband, actor Timothy Busfield, reportedly moved from Los Angeles to Michigan in 2013.