Jeff Barth for Congress

If you’re going to run (walk) for Congress, you might as well have a little fun along the way.

Jeff Barth, a Democratic challenger to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Noemed, released one of the best low-budget autobiographical shorts I’ve ever seen.

Shot in West Wing-style backstepping, Barth’s epic 5-minute campaign video features tongue-in-cheek hillbilly fiddling, whimsical props, and a bowl full of jelly. You see Noem (or was that a mannequin?), a rubber chicken (hilar!), a big gun (that scares aforementioned chicken right outta the shrubbery), a horse’s ass (which don’t get nothin’ done in Washington), and a checkmate (the most threatening visual of them all).

Barth, a 60-year-old retiree and current Minnehaha County Commissioner, gives viewers a nice compilation of fun, useless facts of a life well lived. I mean, his kids even have straight teeth, for goodness’ sake. He assails D.C. politics with sound bite zingers – if you want backed-up facts, you gotta watch his other videos (the guy isn’t a-feared of the camera). He’s going for the gut, and he’s got gut to spare (though, not as much as this guy, ICYMI). Speaking as someone who also has tummy tubs to spare, I have to give it up to Barth for walking as long as he did, in what was probably our unseasonably warm South Dakota late-Spring, all while doing long-ass dialogue scenes (in the highest altitude possible offered East River). I’d be doubled-over every 30 seconds, AIM-style bandana catching the sweat off my brow, and sucking on my NPR water bottle.

I absolutely love the video. It’s got The Demographic (18-34 + cool old folks) written all over it. It also has Barth written all over it, too. He’s a fun guy. An honest guy. He’s someone you gotta be on your toes around, because he’ll throw weird pop-culture shit or some random-but-important fact at you when you least expect it. Back in my reporter days (2006-2008), I covered Minnehaha County for the Argus Leader. I got to know Barth as he was campaigning the first time around for his commission seat. He immediately distinguished himself as a politician ready to go on the line in the name of transparency for his constituents. He was willing to talk at any hour and would spend 30, sometimes 40 minutes on the phone with me just to discuss the one item on the commission agenda I didn’t understand. He’d often talk about chess (I played in middle/high school #nerdalert!). He’d talk about current news items and county items that would soon become news. He was fair-mined, well spoken, and super-competent.

Now he’s our state’s only Democratic primary candidate willing to embrace the LGBT community with open arms of support. Other distinguishing traits (apart from a fantastic sense of humor): He doesn’t have young kiddos at home to take care of, he isn’t seeking a college degree, he doesn’t have hair to style, and I’m willing to bet he has a stellar attendance record for all the non-profit boards, commission meetings, and chess clubs he’s committed to serving. His priorities are focused on South Dakotans and progressive politics. Period.

Was he the first South Dakota politician on YouTube, as he claimed during a live broadcast on SDPB? I dunno. He was featured on others’ channels during his 2006 county commission campaign, but in my brief Googling I couldn’t find any other Barth YouTube channels. Doesn’t phase me, though I’m not sure why he brought that up in the first place. But if Al Gore could create the Internet, then Barth can have a GD YouTube channel before anyone else. (Psst: He has a gun.)

Vote Jeff Barth in the June 5th Primary. You won’t be sorry.

UPDATE 5/28/12 – Here’s more info on how this campaign ad ‘hit the right stride.’ Also, looks like even though those YouTube vids from 2006 didn’t have Barth’s name on them, they appear to belong to him. LEGIT! #winning

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