A South Dakota US Senate Candidate Is Making Music Videos, And They're A Must-Watch

PHOTO: Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate for Senate in South Dakota, has aired a series of parody music videos as campaign ads in the general election.
Weiland Campaign
Rick Weiland, the Democratic candidate for Senate in South Dakota, has aired a series of parody music videos as campaign ads in the general election.

Rick Weiland is trying to sing his way to the Senate.

As national Democrats finalize plans to pour $1 million into South Dakota to help Weiland, the Democrat is flooding television airwaves with country song parodies.

Since April, his campaign has aired three music videos in the state that put an election-year spin on songs like Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” and Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.”

Weiland, 56, has made campaign finance reform a central plank of his campaign.

In one parody, “Big Wheel,” inspired by Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition of “Wagon Wheel,” Weiland sings, “So I’m running for the Senate but I’m not a big wheel, don’t have an RV, just my automobile / Hey, no one’s bought me.”

In “Everywhere Man,” he changes Cash’s lyrics to say, "I'm going everywhere man. Our country needs repair."

His songs are attracting attention because South Dakota is suddenly emerging as a competitive state in the battle over whether Democrats will maintain their majority in the Senate.

Democrats see South Dakota as a new opportunity to expand the midterm map. An independent candidate, former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler could siphon votes from Republican candidate Mike Rounds, a former governor who is facing controversy over a visa program scandal.

Weiland’s videos are mash-ups of campaign stops and performances, featuring what he calls the “Take It Back Band,” a mix of friends and family members named after his campaign slogan.

“It’s been good for the campaign and a good thing for politics,” Weiland told ABC News. “I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.”

While the videos may be a breath of fresh air to voters who have grown tired of traditional campaign ads, Weiland has been writing and performing parody songs for years.

A self-taught guitar player, Weiland played only with friends and his church band until he was appointed to serve in the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Clinton.

While he never jammed with Clinton, who plays the saxophone, Weiland played music with FEMA colleagues, including director James Lee Witt—now a Democratic candidate for Congress in Arkansas.

“We wrote some really great FEMA parodies on American Pie,” Weiland said. “We rhymed ‘Chevy’ with ‘levee,’ it was a lot of fun.”

Weiland has aired each video in full once during the campaign. With the songs checking in at roughly three minutes, it’s a feat only possible in South Dakota, where campaign ads are relatively cheap compared with states like Kentucky and North Carolina.

Should Weiland's campaign release their fourth and final music video--a rendition of Cash's "I Walk the Line"--before the election, it will have to share time with ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which will spend $1 million in South Dakota on ads and a field operation.

ABC's Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.