WASHINGTON — The drastically-underfunded man running to unseat Rep. Keith Ellison in arguably the safest House district in Minnesota is employing a decidedly cheap and 21st-Century tactic in trying to pull the upset.
Make a viral web video.
“Joel Demos is running against Keith Ellison in Minneapolis. You could say that’s a big challenge,” the voice-over announcer says in Demos’ web-only ad that was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. “In fact, it’s monstrous.”
And cue wide shot of Demos pulling a monster truck that has tires as big as he is toward a finish line that reads “ELECTION VICTORY.”
The nub of the spot is this: Ellison has a ton of cash and a national fundraising base as the first Muslim member of Congress (the ad says his was a “history-making” election but leaves it at that). So Demos needs locals to come to his aid and pitch in cash to be competitive.
In fact, federal fundraising reports show that Ellison has pulled in more than 97 percent of every dollar sent to the 5th District this cycle, the most lopsided fundraising totals in the state. And the 5th District really likes to vote for Democrats on the national stage, giving 74 percent of its vote to Barack Obama in 2008.
However, there is some precedent for this sort of thing actually working this year. Remember that Dale Peterson for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner spot, that featured a long gun, a horse and Peterson blaming “thugs and criminals” for the viewer not being aware of the job duties of Alabama Ag Commissioner? If not, or if you just want to see it again, here it is.
The spot got more than 1.7 million views and catapulted Peterson from a no-name longshot into the kingmaker role in a tight three-way contest. He’s now a GOP celebrity and a speaker in demand for campaigns across the country.
Demos is far from that total — he’s got 892 views as of this writing.
But the path to Petersondom, if I can coin that phrase, has already started. National outlet Talking Points Memo has picked up the ad, giving the long-shot Demos points for his “truly great” video.
“It’s safe to say that Demos doesn’t stand much of a chance in November,” TPM’s Eric Kleefeld writes. “But nevertheless, monster trucks are awesome.”
Indeed they are.