Golden Dukes: It’s Time To Vote On 2022’s Most Cringe Campaign Ad

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The celebration of truly horrible campaign ads has long been a fan favorite during the TPM Golden Duke season. In 2008, you all voted on the Sleaziest Campaign Ads of the year, which featured an iconic appearance from the John McCain campaign. That year, the late senator’s campaign put out an ad insinuating that Barack Obama preferred sex education for kindergarten students.

Ten years later in 2018, TPM celebrated the Worst Campaign Attack Ads of the year, complete with the National Republican Congressional Committee being super racist in its attacks on Antonio Delgado.

We’re bringing a 2022 version of the category back this year as part of our ongoing celebration of those who did the worst the best: it’s time to vote on this year’s most Cringe Campaign Ads, which in 2022, also includes memes.

This election cycle provided plenty of fodder. So much in fact that it was, once again, difficult to whittle down the list of nominees. But we’ve got some gems for you to vote on. If you need some convincing, I’ve included some TPM staff and reader nomination pitches below. Vote here ⬇️⬇️⬇️ and happy Duke-ing!

Blake Masters And His Human-Killing Ad

Blake Masters wants you to know that he knows how to kill. Humans. “This is a short-barreled rifle,” the Peter Thiel protégé begins his ad, titled “The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting.” He brandishes the weapon as ominous music plays. “It wasn’t designed for hunting,” he clarifies. “This was designed to kill people.” Though Masters appears to be standing in the sun-drenched Arizona desert, the video is dark and the contrast is jacked up high; his eyes are hidden in shadows. The whole thing looks like a scene from a bizarro version of “The Godfather,” a film in which the cinematographer Gordon Willis famously chose to light the characters only from above to convey their inner darkness. Weird choice for a campaign ad!

Masters, a libertarian ideologue-turned-MAGA extremist, distinguished himself on the campaign trail as a terrifying nerd; when it emerged in July that a youthful Masters had shared some thoughts in a CrossFit chatroom about the Rothschilds, it was largely shrugged off as short of revelatory. But in 2022, Masters was apparently not what Arizona voters were looking for. While Thiel’s other project, JD Vance, cruised to a victory in Ohio, Masters just felt a little bit too much like he was grown in the billionaire would-be blood harvester’s lab. He garnered 46.5% of the vote, underperforming even the conspiracy theory enthusiasts Kari Lake and Mark Finchem with whom he shared a ticket. The creepy gun ad probably didn’t help. 

– Nominated by: TPM Managing Editor John Light

Rapping Grandma Linda Paulson

From the very first beats, Linda Paulson, candidate for state Senate in Utah, has you HOOKED. The rictus smile, the choreography, the grandma flag scarf. And then…she raps. Like the great underground rappers of yore, she takes risks, rhyming “regulation” with “corruption” and sprinkling in a profusion of thumbs up. 

She saves her best material for last, flashing a stock image of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the screen while “rapping” that “as a female adult, I know what a woman is,” capping the verse with what appears to be a self-high five/Heil Hitler hybrid. 

While Paulson fell to Democrat Karen Mayne in the general election, her future remains bright, no doubt peppered with musical opportunities waiting in the wings. 

– Nominated by: TPM reporter Kate Riga

Markwayne Mullin’s Anti-Trans “What A Woman Is” Ad

With its clunky title and the abject use of his own children as props, Sen.-elect Markwayne Mullin’s anti-trans “What A Woman Is” ad was pure cringe. 

Showing off his biceps in a tight black “Team Mullin” t-shirt with an American flag on the sleeve, Mullin declares: “Democrats can’t even tell us what a woman is.”

– Nominated by: TPM Executive Editor David Kurtz

Oz – Crudités, Obviously

Need I say more???

— Nominated by: TPM reader

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