If you live in North Carolina and you watch a lot of online TV, you might have seen the ads. "More weed, less war," exclaims a twentysomething dudebro in one of them, waving a pot leaf-emblazoned poster. "Vote Sean Haugh...Ohhhh Yeah." But Haugh, a Libertarian Senate candidate, has nothing to do with them.
The hopelessly chintzy Hulu ads, first spotted by North Carolina politics blogger Matt Phillippi and picked up by Dave Weigel at Bloomberg, were placed by a Koch Brothers-backed dark money group called the American Future Fund. Ordinarily, the AFF would have no interest in backing a hippy-dippy candidate like Haugh, and even now, they don't, really.
As Weigel explains, by focusing on qualities that might appeal to young liberals—weed! peace! Bob Marley t-shirts!—the group hopes to split votes for incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and help elect Thom Tillis, her Republican challenger.
Haugh himself is bemused by the whole thing: "It's like somebody put me into Google Translate, translated me into another language, and then back into English. It has that sort of disconnected, off-key feel to it. It's just surreal to be a subject of this."
Tillis, the candidate the ads are actually shilling for, doesn't share the target audience's free-loving views: on his campaign issues page, he proudly touts his plan to dismantle Obamacare and a record of endorsing drug tests for welfare recipients and fighting against gay marriage.