Veteran thesp defeated Esai Morales for union’s top job

Film Reporter@Variety_DMcNary Ken Howard has been re-elected national president of SAG-AFTRA, defeating Esai Morales as his primary challenger in the contest to lead the actors union.

Howard was first elected as a SAG moderate in 2009 and re-elected in 2011. He presided over the merger of SAG and AFTRA last year. That move remains controversial among some members, but Howard was widely expected to retain his prexy post.

Howard received 16,396 votes to Morales’ 9,850. A total of 139,967 ballots were set out on July 16 with 28,755, or 20.54%, returned by Thursday.

Also re-elected for a third term as SAG-AFTRA national secretary-treasurer was Amy Aquino, with nabbed 17,590 votes to 10,662 for challenger Jane Austin.

“I’m gratified that members across the country have reelected me to lead our union and continue building on the strong foundation we created through merger,” Howard said in a statement. “I look forward to joining the delegates who will assemble in Los Angeles for the first SAG-AFTRA convention in late September, and then moving forward with the new leadership team to do the important work that members have entrusted to us.”

Ballots for SAG’s local elections in Gotham and L.A. were still being tabulated Thursday evening, the union said.