Travis Irvine wears many hats: Indie movie producer. Stand-up comedian. Owner of a small video production company. Unsuccessful mayoral and U.S. Congressional candidate.
Oh, and writer, director and star of "Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night," a low-budget flick about killer raccoons.
But this year you'll be seeing him on your ballots. He's Ohio's Libertarian candidate for governor.
“I think humor in politics is always necessary, because it does get too serious; it does get too heated sometimes,” he said. “I feel certainly in my lifetime, satire helps get a political message through — a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
The 35-year-old, who hails from the Columbus suburb of Bexley, boasts an eclectic resume. He graduated from Ohio University and Columbia; briefly worked on Capitol Hill; ran for mayor of his hometown in 2007 at age 24 and U.S. Congress in Ohio’s 12th District in 2010; directed and wrote multiple independent films; has been published in HuffPost, Vice and Guardian; and worked on a political web series covering local governments.
His satirical campaign videos have garnered national attention. For his 2007 Bexley mayoral campaign — in which he ran against a high school senior and a beloved town squirrel, among others — he wrote a promotional jingle “A New Face for a Special Place” that Jay Leno later played on his show.
Apart from the viral videos, he is a pretty straightforward campaigner: He goes door to door, pitches yard signs and shows his face at community events.
But occasionally he'll whip out his American flag onesie when he headlines a parade.
"It’s weird because we get a lot of comments that it’s disrespecting the flag code," he said. "The flag code applies to the flag, so it’s not a violation of that."
Now, his gubernatorial campaign videos maintain the same quirkiness. In one he mumbles through duct tape expressing his frustration with being barred from debate participation (with coordinating subtitles, of course). In another, he cues up his rifle to literally shoot down articles about Mike DeWine's gun advocacy group endorsements for his policies, which Irvine claims are dismal.
Irvine has faced some obstacles. For starters, he was almost not on the ballot.
An Ohio law passed in 2013 requires that candidates must win 2 percent — then, starting in 2015, 3 percent — of the vote in a gubernatorial or presidential election for the party to appear on the ballot in the following four years.
The new law left then-Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl off the ballot. That mean Irvine had to start from scratch for a Libertarian candidate to be to be recognized on the ballot.
Irvine and his running mate Todd Grayson of Fremont are targeting millennials, Democrats and Republicans disappointed with the mainstream gubernatorial slates.
They're championing “pro-freedom” issues like full marijuana legalization and Issue 1 to counter the opioid crisis, tax reform to benefit small businesses and gun rights.
He is funny, but Irvine stresses he is a serious candidate.
“People keep asking me, ‘Do you think you could win?’” Irvine said. “Well I have in a one in four chance because there’s four people on the ballot, and if we get our message out there, I do think we have a winning message.”