If so then do the fine folks at American Future Fund have a candidate for you!
What does legalization of marijuana, a third party candidate, and the Republican based PAC, American Future Fund, have in common? The outcome of a North Carolina senate race apparently.
To understand this story, you have to start here with this political ad.
What you just saw is a political ad that supports third-party libertarian candidate Sean Haugh. He’s currently on the ballot for this year’s North Carolina senate race. This same senate race has gained national prominence over the last couple of weeks due to how close it’s become between incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Even though most polls show the race to be a dead heat, this is one of the few senate races that look to have the Democrats coming out on top.
So where does Sean Haugh fit into all of this?
In this HuffingtonPost analysis, they have Haugh taking 4.7% of the potential vote. In a close race that Sen. Hagan and Tillis are in, 4.7% of the vote becomes a sizable chunk. To be honest – for an eccentric craft brew lover and pizza delivery man – Haugh getting almost 5% of the vote in this high profile of a race is pretty impressive, considering his only outlet is a YouTube channel. Based on those measures, he’s faring better than most other third party candidates have in similar situations. So creating a campaign ad, would make a lot of sense.
The only problem, he or any of his affiliate supporters didn’t create it. This can be seen in the ad’s closing moments.
Thanks to the “Stand by Your Ad” provision in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (or aka McCain–Feingold Act) political ads have to disclose if the candidate approved the message and the ad’s creator. In the end of the Get Haugh political ad it’s written, “Paid for by the American Future Fund. Not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.” As the ad clearly states, Haugh had nothing to do with the ad and was created by the Republican backed PAC American Future Fund. The PAC was created by Republican operative Nick Ryan back in 2008. Since then it is heavily tied to the infamous Koch Brother’s dark money network and has spent hundreds of thousands in ad money attacking Democratic candidates and interests.
But the question remains, why would a Republican backed PAC support a libertarian candidate in a close senate race where a strong Republican candidate is already present? Wouldn’t all this just split their voting bloc, making it more likely that a Democrat would come out ahead?
From American Future Fund’s perspective, it’s all about messaging. In the Get Haugh ad, American Future Fund is clearly targeting Millennials, who tend to vote Democrat and swing liberal on a wide range of issues. Granted it’s in the most condescending way imaginable – more on that in a bit – but it’s a legitimate strategy never the less. The ads clearly go after Sen. Hagan in hopes of splitting the young/liberal Democratic bloc to vote for Haugh. In such a close election, even a small split could give the edge to Tillis, making the Republicans one step closer to controlling the Senate.
The American Future Fund’s only problem – forgetting for the moment that this type of electioneering represents everything wrong with American politics – is that the ads are GOD AWFUL! (Oh yeah, I said ads, as in plural!) The whole thing just reeks of this coming from the mind of some out-of-touch middle-aged political consultant that believes the “young voter” is some idiot that only cares about getting high and world peace. They also never mention substantive issues to Millennials as the Student Loan crisis or lack of career advancement opportunities.
Still the idea of a third-party candidate playing “spoiler” is nothing new. People still blame the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nadar, for losing the presidential election for Al Gore back in 2000. But if somehow these terrible ads by American Future Fund do work, this would not only create a terrible precedence for future campaigns, but it would also make people question the intelligence of an entire generation. In other words, if this actually does work then…
Let’s just all hope it doesn’t come to that.