The Slatest

The Worst Ad of the 2018 Elections Is Already Here

The contest for Virginia’s 10th District House seat is generally considered one of the 2018 congressional races to watch. Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock could be vulnerable given Donald Trump’s unpopularity in Northern Virginia, and at least eight Democrats are in the running to replace her.

The primary field lacks both a clear front-runner and any real sign that the broad debates about where the Democratic Party should go on policy have trickled down into this particular race. The Democrats are instead emphasizing minor distinctions. The campaigns of Deep Sran and Kimberly Adams are focused on public education. Alison Kiehl Friedman is touting an endorsement from Gloria Steinem. Dave Hanson and Michael Pomerleano have top-lined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and impeaching Trump, respectively, in the “issues” sections of their websites. Lindsey Davis Stover wants voters to know she worked in the Obama administration, and Jennifer Wexton is running on her record as a state senator. That leaves Daniel Helmer, who … just put out this.

Dan Helmer is a husband, a father, and, as conspicuously detailed by his T-shirt, a VETERAN (of the Army, not the Navy as the ad perhaps implies). If you check out the issues page on his slick website, you won’t find much more than the same kind of fridge magnet centrism that characterizes the majority of Democratic candidates—dare to dream of an America with a “smart regulatory environment”—which is the point of the above ad.

I have no idea what the thinking behind this ad was, but I suppose small donors who find it endearingly bad will send some cash Helmer’s way, perhaps turning an unknown into a contender. The ad is memorable, after all. Haunting, really.