If congressional races hinged on singing talent, Dan Helmer might have lost the race before it has really begun.
Helmer, one of the Democrats competing to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) next year, released a painful-to-watch web ad Monday spoofing a "Top Gun" scene.
Instead of serenading Kelly McGillis at a bar, Tom Cruise's Maverick and his sidekick Goose — played by Helmer and his schoolteacher wife — belt out their version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" to a Comstock lookalike.
"You're trying hard not to show it," they sing as volunteers playing bar patrons chime in. "But Barbara, Barbara you know it. You've lost that centrist feeling. 'Cause you've been right wing appealing."
Wearing a t-shirt with a flag and the word "veteran" in a font size that could be read in the next town over, Helmer's parody of the military flick reinforces his background as a U.S. Military Academy graduate who served in Iraq in 2004.
The campaign plans to share the ad exclusively through social media in hopes of lightening the mood during a tense time politically, Helmer said.
Comstock is seeking a third term in a northern Virginia district that both parties say could be among the nation's most competitive next year. Hillary Clinton won the district by 10 points last year and at least eight Democrats are vying for the chance to challenge Comstock.
"There's a lot of yelling and screaming in vitriol in politics," Helmer said in an interview. "I take meeting with constituents seriously but I think this is one we can have fun with...I don't think anyone thinks I'm going to win a Grammy.""
The Bethesda-based company, SWAY, produced the video and, according to its web site, has worked for Wendy Davis' campaign for the Texas Senate and Joe Sestak's U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania.
The Helmer video already earned a dubious honor.
"With Slate calling it 'The Worst Ad of the 2018 Elections,' Helmer is going to need a beer to put out those flames," said Maddie Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the ad, Helmer pokes fun at Comstock for conservative votes and her aversion to holding hold town halls,
"You never hold town halls anymore with constituents," he sings. "Planned Parenthood and Obamacare you voted against."
The ad does not mention that Comstock voted against an earlier attempt by House Republicans to remake the Affordable Care Act.
Despite the attention the video is generating, Helmer promised it would be his last musical performance.
"I'll keep it to the shower after this," he said.