Satirical Senate Campaign After Laughs, Real Reforms

Jul 17, 2014

A new face is about to join the most-watched Senate race in the country, but you won’t see his name on the ballot this November.

Screenshot from represent.us ad for satirical Gil Fulbright campaign
Screenshot from represent.us ad for satirical Gil Fulbright campaign

With Kentuckians now thoroughly acclimated to political ads from Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, it may come as a surprise when an unfamiliar candidate pops up on their TVs this summer.

"I'm Gil Fulbright," he begins, generic campaign music playing in the background.

But it won’t take long for viewers to realize something’s different.

"This campaign," he continues, "it's not about me. It's about crafting a version of me that will appeal to you, a version that visits random work sites with paid actors... pointing at things."

Gil Fulbright is a fictional candidate, the brainchild of anti-corruption advocates represent.us.

The group’s director, Josh Silver, says they plan to take a page from Stephen Colbert and use satire to shine a light on money in politics.  And while the website and ads are meant to get a laugh, Silver says the campaign is no joke. He points to estimates showing this year’s Senate race in Kentucky on track to cost $100M – more than any Senate campaign in history.

"Underneath the humor of the Fulbright campaign is a very serious advocacy campaign to fix this problem. Represent.us is pushing anti-corruption laws in cities and states across the country that would eliminate the quid pro quo bribery that defines American politics," he says.

Represent.us has already crowdsourced $26,000 to send Fulbright, a.k.a. New York actor Frank Ridley, to the annual Fancy Farm and across the state as election season heats up.

Watch a Gil Fulbright ad below.