David Trone has never run for office before, but he’s wearing the standard issue uniform of a politician in his first television ads: the barn jacket.
The wealthy Maryland Democrat thrust himself into the 8th District primary with close to a $1 million ad buy in the expensive Washington, D.C., media market. In the ad, entitled “Bet the Farm,” the owner of the Total Wine & More chain of stores dons a barn jacket to take viewers on a tour of the family farm where he grew up.
For years, the barn jacket has become the go-to fashion accessory for candidates trying to appeal to the common folk.
Last cycle, Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner wore the coat in a pair of ads in his challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois. In “Back to Work,” the wealthy venture capitalist declared, “I’m a citizen, not a politician.”
As candidates budget their multimillion dollar campaigns this year, spending $124.99 on a Duck Traditional Coat/Arctic Quilt-Lined by Carhartt may be the best investment they will ever make.
Republican Scott Brown may have the most famous use of the jacket during his 2010 special-election victory to take over the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts. Brown’s adviser even suggested that the jacket hang in the Smithsonian next to the Spirit of St. Louis.
Former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado used the barn jacket successfully in his initial run in 2010, after he was appointed the year before.
For other candidates, the jacket hasn’t provided the insulation they needed from other attacks.
In 2004, Sen. John Kerry wore a barn jacket while hunting in his failed presidential bid. And in 2008, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wore the female version, but it wasn’t enough to make independent voters warm up to the GOP ticket.
In late 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry unleashed the barn jacket on potential Iowa caucus-goers. He finished fifth with 10 percent.
In 2010, the barn jacket wasn’t enough to get Republican Buz Mills to the gubernatorial primary in Arizona.
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