Skip to main content

Freedom of Expression: The Funniest Primary Campaign Ads

As you celebrate Independence Day, take a break from the barbecue to pay tribute to the freedom of speech, and those aspiring Texas politicos who used it to produce incredibly entertaining primary campaign ads.

Lead image for this article

As you celebrate Independence Day, take a break from the barbeque to pay tribute to the freedom of speech, and those aspiring Texas politicos who used it to produce incredibly entertaining primary campaign ads. 

Most of the season's ads were pretty boilerplate, chock full of promises, endorsements and digs on opponents. But a few candidates got far more creative. The laughs and gags didn't always translate into votes on election night, but they earned a special place in our YouTube queues.

1. Roger Williams for Congress - The Donkey Whisperer

Comedian W.C. Fields is credited with saying "Never work with children or animals," but Williams bucked the advice. The former Texas Secretary of State is currently in a runoff race against Wes Riddle for U.S. House District 25. The winner will go up against Democrat Elaine Henderson in the general election. (And yes, those are Williams' own donkeys from his ranch.)


2 & 3. Roland Sledge for Texas Railroad Commissioner

Electric Fences

 

Hammer the EPA


Unfortunately for “The Hammer,” he lost in the primary. Sledge received only 9.9 percent of the vote. No actual disgraced governors of Illinois were hurt in the making of these ads.

4. Ron Paul for President — Big Dog

Perhaps the king of the viral political video — his YouTube clips regularly surpass 100,000 views — Paul has conceded that he will not be the Republican nominee for President. That's "Not," with an "N."

5. Rick Perry for President — What's My Line Again?

The longtime Texas governor tried the "laughing with me, not at me" approach to address his now-notorious debate-night forgetfulness. He officially suspended his campaign on Jan. 19.

6. Tommy Williams for State Senate

Williams doesn't just need a bigger briefcase. The incumbent beat challenger Michael Galloway in the primary and will face Libertarian Bob Townsend in the general election.


7. Tom Leppert for U.S. Senate 

Invisible Craig James steals the show. Leppert, the former Dallas mayor, lost in the primary to former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, two men who are engaged in an escalating ad war as they head toward a runoff.

8, 9 & 10. David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate

David Dewhurst the Wind Surfer

Ted Cruz the DC PAC-Man

Dave and Ted’s Epic Misadventures

Glenn Addison did not win the primary — but he was a Texas campaign ad innovator. May big-head ads live on to July 31 and beyond.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

The Texas Tribune Member Drive Fall 2020 banner

This public-service journalism is made possible by readers like you.

Donate now