The campaign of 2018 has brought out some odd candidates, and some even odder commercials. There was the guy who pepper sprayed himself in the face, the guy who compared President Trump to Osama bin Laden, and the guy whose ad was literally a dumpster fire.
Let's take a quick look back at the good, the bad and the really weird from this year's campaigns.
Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Secretary of State who is running for governor, prompted outrage from some folks with an ad in which he holds a shotgun while interviewing a prospective suitor for one of his daughters.
In the ad, Kemp sits back in his easy chair holding a shotgun while he asks questions of the young man, called “Jake.”
Kemp, serious-faced, states, “Jake asked why I was runnin’ for governor. Number one?”
Jake replies, “Cap government spending.”
Kemp: “Number two?”
Jake: “Take a chainsaw to regulations.”
Jake: “Make Georgia number one for small businesses.”
Kemp: “And two things if you’re gonna date one of my daughters?”
Jake: “Respect …”
Jake: “A healthy appreciation for the Second Amendment. Sir. ”
Kemp closes the shotgun, as he replies, “We’re gon’ get along just fine,” then finally smiles.
Pepper Spraying Politician
A Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Colorado came up with a novel solution for stopping school shootings — pepper spray. And who better to illustrate the spray's power than himself.
In his ad, Levi Tillemann, running in the June 26 Democratic primary for the right to square off against incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, begins by stating, “Washington needs more doers and innovators. That’s why I’m running for U.S. Congress. I’m calling on Congress to stop talking past each other and try something new.”
Then he gets weird. “Empower schools and teachers with non-lethal self-defense tools," he says as he reaches for something off-screen. “Like this can of pepper spray.”
Pepper spray doesn’t cost much, and it can be safely stored in a break-glass in case an emergency happens. But it’s powerful, and won’t accidentally kill a kid. Trust me: this will stop anyone in their tracks.”
He closes his eyes. And as dramatic music plays, Tillemann is sprayed in the face. He quickly dips his head into a tub filled with soapy water to save himself from agony.
"It's incredibly painful," he says.
The ad didn't work. He lost his primary race.
While some Republicans were steering clear of President Trump, Rep. Ron DeSantis, a candidate for governor in Florida, went with a different strategy.
DeSantis released an ad in which he fully embraces Trump, featuring his wife, Casey. "Everyone knows my husband Ron DeSantis is endorsed by President Trump, but he’s also an amazing dad," she says.
As he is shown helping his toddler daughter Madison play with cardboard building blocks, he tells her to "build the wall." In another scene, he pretends to read a copy of Trump's book "The Art of the Deal" to his infant son Mason, narrating: "Then Mr. Trump said, 'You're fired!' I love that part!"
In another snippet, as DeSantis is seen teaching Madison how to talk, he prompts her with "Make America Great Again."
2018 featured one ad the likes of which we've never seen before.
Dr. David Brill, an Arizona Democrat running for Congress, featured six brothers and sisters of his Republican opponent Paul Gosar, the incumbent.
The ad, titled "A family defends its honor," shows Gosar's siblings — Tim, Jennifer, Gaston, Joan, Grace, and David — delivering disparaging remarks about Gosar and his agenda. The ad takes a stark turn when you find out that the pro-Brill folks are actually Gosar's brothers and sisters.
"Paul Gosar the congressman isn't doing anything to help rural America," says Grace at the start of the ad. "Paul's absolutely not working for his district," asserts David, before his brother Tim adds, "He's not listening to you and he doesn't have your interest at heart." "I endorse Dr. Brill," says one sibling enthusiastically. Another adds, "whole heartedly."
Brill, who's looking to unseat the representative from Arizona’s 4th Congressional District this November, appears at the end of the ad to endorse the siblings' message. "They feel this is a matter of civic duty, making their public statements even more compelling," Brill said of the ad via a statement.
"I greatly appreciate and admire the courage of the Gosar family in stepping into the national spotlight for this vital message," he added. "We all must honor their dedication of working to build a better future for all Americans. This is a commitment I believe in and will fight for."
Gosar, a heavy favorite who's held the seat since 2013, reacted to the ad via Twitter, writing, "My siblings who chose to film ads against me are all liberal Democrats who hate President Trump. These disgruntled Hillary suppporters [sic] are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Stalin would be proud."
Thanksgiving this year is likely to be very unpleasant.
Osama bin Trump
Democrats, of course, targeted Trump during the 2018 campaign.
Like Dan Helmer, who was running in the Democratic primary for Virginia's 10th Congressional District. He declared that the new Osama bin Laden-level threat to the country is none other than the current president of the United States. Actually, Helmer suggested, he might be even worse because rather than living in a cave, he lives right in the middle of Washington, D.C.
"After 9/11, the greatest threat to our democracy lived in a cave," says Helmer. "Today, he lives in the White House. No one, not even the president, is above the law."
Helmer, an Iraq War veteran and Rhodes Scholar, presents himself as a political outsider, someone who is "different" than the other candidates on the ballot. In the ad, he says he's for a "Medicare for all" option and is committed to fighting the gun lobby "to protect children, not guns."
The gambit didn't work. Helmer finished fourth in his primary, winning just more than 6,700 votes or 12% of the vote.
But Helmer wasn't done. He also made this horribly bad ad, in which he copies a scene from the film "Top Gun" where Tom Cruise's character, Maverick, sings to "You've Lost that Loving Feeling."
An Actual Dumpster Fire Of An Ad
Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush White House, put out an ad in which he stands in front of a burning dumpster.
"Some people see a dumpster fire and do nothing but watch the spectacle. Some are too scared to face the danger, or they think it will benefit them if they just let it keep on burning. Others shrug and say, 'Oh, all this talk of a dumpster fire is just fake news,'" says Painter, running for Senate in Minnesota.
“There is an inferno raging in Washington, but here in the land of 10,000 lakes,” Painter says as a cascade of water extinguishes the raging flames, “we know how to put out a fire.”