Republican Candidates Are Now Filming Their Campaign Ads In Swamps

It’s the new fire-a-gun-at-a-symbol-of-something-you-don’t-like. Welcome to 2018.

Stovall for Congress/YouTube

Say you’re an aspiring Republican politician in the Trump era trying to demonstrate your loyalty to the president and his followers. What do you do? Here’s what you do: You put on a pair of waders and stand waist-deep in murky water to show your commitment to helping President Donald Trump drain the swamp.

Bexar County Republican chairman Robert Stovall, who is seeking to replace retiring Texas Republican Lamar Smith in Congress, is the first 2018 GOP candidate to take the plunge:

Stovall in fact appears to be standing in a river that just has some algae in it, rather than an actual swamp. Ecological accuracy is not a recurring feature in these ads.

The swamp metaphor was a dominant theme in Republican primaries for special congressional elections in 2017. In the Alabama Senate race, Rep. Mo Brooks embarked on a 23-stop “Drain the Swamp” bus tour; interim Sen. Luther Strange ran an ad titled, “Drain the Swamp“; and Roy Moore’s final campaign event was called the “Drain the Swamp Rally.”

Here’s now-Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kans.), who last year won a surprisingly tight special election in April to replace the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HMh_BIpunM

Estes’ ad raised more questions than it answered, such as, “Why is there an alligator in Kansas?” 

And also, “Wait, what happened to all the algae?” 

But in a race as close as his, that extra flourish might have made all the difference. Patient Zero of the standing-in-waders-trying-to-drain-the-swamp explosion was Bob Gray, who last year waged an unsuccessful campaign for the GOP nomination in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Gray lost to now-Rep. Karen Handel, but he remains the only candidate pledging to drain the swamp who has made a physical effort to drain the swamp as he was standing in it:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.