Iowa gubernatorial hopeful to make splash on Sharknado Week

With entertainment background, Roske admits he doesn't have typical background

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CEDAR RAPIDS — For many candidates and campaigns, “GOTV” means “get on TV” rather than “get out the vote.”

Independent candidate for governor Brent Roske will get on TV in a big way July 30, not with a campaign appearance, but as Captain Jack Morgan in “5-Headed Shark Attack,” which will premiere July 30, the first night of Syfy’s Sharknado Week.

Roske served as the first assistant director for the film as well as appearing as Morgan, the leader of a manatee-watching tourist ship.

The movie, filmed in Puerto Rico, “doesn’t deal with much else other than people getting eaten by a crazy shark, which I guess could have been used to illustrate the need for single-payer health coverage,” Roske said.

Roske, 42, has worked in politics and entertainment for several years, including 10 years as a creative director at NBC-Universal. More recently, he was nominated for an Emmy for his series “Roske on Politics.” His interviews with all of the major 2016 presidential candidates aired on a Des Moines TV station.

Roske also wrote and directed a scripted drama about the caucus process, “Courting Des Moines.” It’s a sequel to his 2012 web series “Chasing the Hill,” which chronicled a fictional California congressional campaign. In the sequel, Congresswoman Samantha Clemons, played by “The West Wing” actress Melissa Fitzgerald, heads to Iowa to compete in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Roske’s also run for Congress — unsuccessfully — from California. Now he’s set his sights on the Iowa’s Statehouse, although, he conceded, his background is not typical for a gubernatorial candidate.

“I’ve had success in the entertainment industry and I don’t see any reason to run from it,” Roske said. “Sadly, most of the news from Washington these days feels more like a soap opera than running a country.”

Roske said he’s not beholden to special interests, “which is why I have the guts to say that as Governor I won’t sign any bill into law until we can provide clean drinking water to every Iowan.”

Roske believes that like craft beer and motorcycles, medical and recreational marijuana should be expressions of the freedoms Americans enjoy.

In a two-party system, independent candidates have not enjoyed much success, but “after the last Iowa legislative session I think we have to stop business as usual,” Roske said.

“I don’t think spending millions of dollars on a political campaign is something to be proud of,” Roske said about news that Democrat Fred Hubbell had raised $1 million a week after entering the race for governor.

“We have to stop looking at big spenders as ‘real campaigns,’” he said. “The traditionally high cost of running a campaign for either state or federal office is why we live in an oligarchy and why the rich reap more rewards from our government. We need to level the playing field, which means reasonably priced campaigns and providing single-payer health insurance for all Americans, as an example.”

Roske is planning to campaign around Iowa, showing “Courting Des Moines” followed by a question-and-answer session.

Follow Roske on Twitter at @brentroske and for more on his acting and directing experience, visit http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0743052/.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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