Wacky Campaign Ads Push Candidates Into Spotlight

By Meghan Kiesel

Jun 13, 2012 4:54pm

Most elections end up being about independent voters. But there’s a Republican senate candidate in Minnesota who is pinning his hopes on an independent film. His own independent film.

The Minnesota Senate hopeful wants to lean on the city’s artistic tendencies. Republican Kurt Bills has put his staff to work creating a short film,  to run in Minnesota’s Riverview Theater tonight. The trailer for “Staring at the Future” hints that the film’s protagonist is facing a decision, one in which “the right choices will lead to growth and family – the wrong choices, despair.”

“Rather than rely on obvious campaign themes, the film shares a thoughtful message about the importance of staying true to oneself and making choices that will build a better future for all of us,” says Bills in a statement on his website.

Bills is not the only candidate to let his inner artist loose on the campaign trail and YouTube this year.

Others, such as South Dakota Democrat Jeff Barth, hoped to appeal to their viewers’ frustration with government and love for ostriches, chess in Iceland and walks in the woods, all at once. While Barth became an Internet sensation with his campaign ad, he eventually lost his bid at the Democratic nomination to South Dakota’s only seat in the House in the primaries on June 5.

In Texas, it seems a healthy dose of indignation is all candidates are looking for in their campaign ads. Lou Gigliotti, a Texas Republican vying for a slot in Congress, was so frustrated with the EPA and taxes that he took to the firing range with them. The last 30 seconds of Gigliotti’s ad features the candidate firing at skeet meant to represent the offending departments. We have to give credit to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, however, for being the first to target legislation when he took aim at “cap and trade” legislation passed by the House of Representatives ahead of his election in 2010.

None of these candidates are letting a low budget get in their way. In his campaign for Texas railroad commissioner, Roland Sledge has also managed to make an impact down in the Lone Star state. Sledge kicks off by proclaiming that there are “three kinds of men: the one who learns by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest have to pee on an electric fence.” Clearly, incumbent politicians belong to the third group – which Sledge’s ad illustrates in detail with a visual only made better by its low-budget production.

The ads are memorable, but do they work? Manchin was elected, certainly. But Barth lost his primary. The two Texas primaries occur later this month.

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