Angela Valdez profiles Damien Ober, so far the lone Libertarian candidate on the D.C. ballot this year, and a gonzo candidate for "Shadow Senator," the horse hockey job that D.C. polls created to protest and lobby against the city's lack of real, voting senators.
Ober, 30, came up with the idea for the ads a few months ago, envisioning a political prank/art project with sequential videos rolling out the narrative of a fictional candidate. He recruited friends to help write scripts and a local Shakespearean actor to play the role of candidate.
After announcing their "candidacy," Ober and his friends uploaded videos about the defeat of the gun ban, the sagging U.S. economy, and our dependence on foreign oil. Their positions took a vaguely libertarian point of view—Ober served as a delegate for Rep. Ron Paul in the February 2008 Republican primary—and consistently returned to references to shadows. By using an obvious fraud—the shadowy candidate—as the mouthpiece for a sincere message—the disenfranchisement of D.C. voters—the videos poke fun at the duplicity of real politics.
Ober's platform includes a few unusual proposals: He wants to put more resources into human space flight (the voyages could still be unmanned, Woods notes, "if we send women"); he wants to reclaim Arlington for the District of Columbia and re-energize public education by requiring failing public schools to teach Greek and Latin. He also advocates more openness in campaigning.
If the space flight thing is jarring, keep in mind: Ober's day job is at our local commie-themed coffee house, the Marx Cafe.
As I wrote above, it looks like Ober might be the only Libertarian option on the ballot. The attention-getting Heller campaign crashed on the launchpad due to a late start and what I can only characterize as a bumbling ballot access campaign that involved on volunteers who were drafted at social gatherings and not that interested in actually hitting the hot summer streets. Ober, by contrast, was everywhere gathering signatures. I ran into him twice in July, and both times he had a clipboard in hand.