This may be the most unintentionally hilarious campaign ad of the year

Does the name Sean Eldridge ring a bell?

He’s a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 19th District, located north of NYC and including Woodstock. It’s a district that has been redistricted in recent years, and has been represented by a Republican for 16 of the past 20 years.

However, the Cook PVI is D+1, and the district went slightly in Obama’s column in 2008 and 2012.

Eldridge is a former Obama community organizer, founding Students for Barack Obama in 2007 and he served as a Democratic Party delegate for the district in 2012.


His ties to the NY-19 run deep.

In fact, he’s lived there since January 2013, waiting a whole six months from the purchase of his $2 million mansion to clear to announce his congressional candidacy.

Previously, he was a two-year resident of the neighboring district, NY-18.

He abandoned the $5 million estate he purchased there because winning the candidacy of NY-18, an R+2 district with a young and vibrant Democratic representative, was simply “unattainable”.

But this isn’t much of a problem. See, he’s married to someone of means.

Does the name Chris Hughes ring a bell?

He’s the co-founder of Facebook, and worth around $500 million.

However, with all the money to run a campaign and the support of billionaire hedge fund tycoon George Soros and Napster co-founder Sean Parker, Eldridge is having a little trouble trying to appear as a local:

He raised an impressive $300,000 in the first three months of this year, but only a small fraction of the donations came from individuals in the district. And Mr. Eldridge’s voter registration, which he applied for in January, was placed on the inactive list after a confirmation postcard sent to his new home was returned to the local board of elections marked: “Return to sender. No mail receptacle.” His registration has since been reactivated.

That hasn’t stopped Eldridge from pumping as much money into the district as he can to gin up support:

Since late last year, [Eldridge’s] firm has provided at least $800,000 in loans to businesses in the district, including Bread Alone bakery and Prohibition Distillery. And Mr. Eldridge has dug into his own pocket, donating $250,000 to a $1 million effort in the district to build a 3-D printing technology center at SUNY New Paltz.

Without the support of any major Democratic Party organizations, Eldridge has turned to the election year classic, the campaign ad, to introduce himself to members of his district.

What follows is nothing short of embarrassing:

ELDRIDGE: I grew up in a small town. I went to public schools. My dad was, actually, the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

I’ve been very fortunate in my life. My husband Chris was one of the founders of Facebook. So I have the independence to reject special interest contributions and do what’s right.

To fight for our environment, for a woman’s right to choose, and to reform our broken campaign finance system. I will be an independent advocate. And I won’t represent anybody but you.

I’m Sean Eldridge and I approve of this message.

Mind you, all of this is being said while an unusually-diverse, equally bored-and-confused crowd of local yokels sit and emphatically, overactingly nod.

Jodie Foster lookalike who nods precisely when Eldridge says “fight for a woman’s right to choose”

One woman even mouths “that’s right” to complete the spectacle in the round.

she receives her cameo right when he says he’ll reform our campaign finance system

Interesting how “independence to reject special interest contributions” is a euphemism for “I am extraordinarily wealthy” and “reform our broken campaign finance system” is an equal euphemism for “I am receiving millions in donations from my wealthy friends from completely outside the district”.

The “small town” Eldridge grew up in is Ottawa Hills, Ohio, a wealthy Toledo suburb with a median household income over $100,000 that is “ranked 13 out of 1065 political subdivisions in the state of Ohio by per capita income”.

small town living

The “public schools” Eldridge attended were ranked 1st in the state of Ohio.

Eldridge attended Deep Springs College in rural California, a highly-exclusive private all-boys school with a Vanity Fair profile (“the most successful experiment in higher education in U.S. history!”) and a student body of 26 (women were finally admitted in 2013, so until 2013, women did not have the right to choose to attend Deep Springs College).

Eldridge graduated with a degree in philosophy from Brown University (also not a public school) and attended Columbia Law (not a public school).

His dad, the “first in his family to attend college” is Dr. Stephen Eldridge, “chairman of the radiology department at St. Luke’s Hospital and executive vice president of Consulting Radiologists Corp” who graduated from the University of Ottawa, one of Canada’s top medical schools.  Dr. Eldridge is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Toledo.  

And Dr. Eldridge is not the only Dr. Eldridge in the family.  Dr. Sarah Taub (Eldridge) is Sean’s mom, and she’s a dual-board-certified physician who is also a graduate of the University of Ottawa.

Sean Eldridge has little in common with his new neighbors/sought constituents.

But that isn’t stopping him from pretending as if he’s “one of the locals”.

just don’t use this photo, that’s at the old mansion in the 18th district

In the old days, they would call someone who determined where they’d buy real estate year to year depending on which elections they could enter and win a “carpetbagger”.

Even the New York Times calls Eldridge “Young, Rich and Relocating Yet Again in Hunt for Political Office” in a 2013 profile.

When the New York Times is onto the fact that you’re moving between mansions to win elections, it’s game over.