Guns, normcore and bitcoins – a guide to the hottest campaign accessories this season

When constituents are thinking of reasons to vote for candidates, "They wear great shirts," is not among the top answers. However, style trends -- like LBDs (loveable background dads), guns and smartphones -- are easy to spot on the campaign trail. Here's a look at some of the top campaign accessories of 2014 -- and the candidates who sport them best.

Guns

Here is Will Brooke, who improbably lost a Republican congressional primary in Alabama after shooting at the Obamacare bill with multiple guns.


Screenshot of Will Brooke campaign ad

Montana state Sen. Matt Rosendale made sure his love of the 2nd Amendment and good ol' Western libertarianism were very clear in his House campaign ad. He is aiming at a drone.


Screenshot of Matt Rosendale campaign ad

Bob Quast, who is running as an Independent in an Iowa Senate race, also sported a gun in an ad.


Screenshot of Bill Quast campaign ad

Col. Rob Maness, who is running in Louisiana's Republican Senate primary, also shot some stuff.


Screenshot of Rob Maness campaign ad

Guns aren't the sole province of Republican candidates. Democratic candidates have sported firearms too. Here's Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.

 

You don't need to use the gun, either. It also makes good decor. Especially when propped against your pickup truck.


Screenshot of Dwayne Stovall campaign ad

If you decide to use a fake gun, you better throw Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in there too, just to be safe. Yeah, just like that Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse (R)!

Normcore

Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, who hasn't conceded to Republican primary winner Sen. Thad Cochran quite yet, is the king of competitive normcore. The New York Times defined normcore as "a supposed style trend where dressing like a tourist — non-ironic sweatshirts, white sneakers and Jerry Seinfeld-like dad jeans." McDaniel's sartorial choices are a variation on the theme:  he's adapted the trend into the campaign-appropriate business-casual normcore.


Jack Fairchilds/Laurel Leader-Call

Business casual normcore was first popularized in 2012 by presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the first politician to fundraise off being normcore.

Here's Iowa's trendy Bob Quast again, who also gave normcore fashion a try.

Capture
Screenshot of Bill Quast campaign ad

Dads

Voters also love dads. At least candidates think so, because they are everywhere this year.


Screenshot of Michelle Nunn campaign ad

Michelle Nunn is running as a Democrat in this year's Georgia senate race. Her dad, former senator Sam Nunn, is kind of a big deal in Georgia politics.

Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, joined the fad by featuring his sad dad in an ad.


Screenshot of Tom Cotton campaign ad

Sen. Mark Begich's father, Nick Begich, served as a Democratic representative in Alaska before disappearing on a flight with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs. The plane was never found. Mark Begich built an entire campaign ad around his dad this year.


Screenshot of Mark Begich campaign ad

Extra credit for candidates who share #tbt photos of their dads, like Grimes -- who also has a father who's a former well-known Democratic politician.

 

Rep. Jack Kingston, vying for the Republican senate nomination in a Georgia run-off, took the trend to the next level, by starring in an ad as a dad.


Screenshot of Jack Kingston campaign ad

... as did Wisconsin Rep Reid Ribble (R).


Screenshot of Reid Ribble campaign ad

Bitcoin

Bitcoins are like tech cupcakes. Politicians love seeming hip with the times. Thus, many candidates have jumped onto the bitcoin bandwagon, despite the fact that no one knows if they will suffer the same fate as their sugary forebears.

There's Mark Warden, who's running for state representative in New Hampshire, and Bryan Parker, who wants to be mayor of Oakland, California.


Screenshot of Mark Warden campaign Web site

 

There's Blaine Richardson, who is running as an Independent in a Maine House race.

Darryl W. Perry, the first libertarian to declare his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election, is only accepting donations in "bitcoin, litecoin, gold, silver and copper."


Screenshot of Darryl W. Perry campaign Web site

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) didn't win the Senate primary in his state, but he was one of the first adopters of the bitcoin donation.

Capture
Screenshot of Steve Stockman campaign Web site

Colorado Rep. Jared Polis also accepts bitcoins.


Screenshot of Jared Polis campaign Web site

Smartphones

Tom Cotton didn't only feature his dad in an ad. He also made sure his mom got a shoutout too. And he reminded everyone how great his mom ad was by showing it on YouTube on his smartphone in a later ad. Showing YouTube videos on his phone to friends -- just like us!


Screenshot of Tom Cotton campaign Web site

Out campaigning in Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran let constituents snap photos of his dapper suits.


Bonnie Davis of Brandon, Miss, takes a picture of Sen. Thad Cochran (R) at Hamil's Restaurant during an election-day campaign swing through central Mississippi. EPA/CHRIS TODD

Some candidates have tried to make iPad photography a thing. They are doing it wrong.

 

Most of the time, however, it's not how you wear the smartphone. It's which filter you use when you take photos with your smartphone. If you don't take a photo of yourself campaigning, it basically didn't happen, which Mississippi senate candidate Travis Childers (D) knows very well.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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