Two years ago, while Irvine was living in New York City, a friend sent him a clip of a debate among candidates running in Ohio's 12th Congressional District.

Two years ago, while Irvine was living in New York City, a friend sent him a clip of a debate among candidates running in Ohio's 12th Congressional District.

There was good news: Libertarian Steve Linnabary had been invited. There was bad news: He could barely put together a convincing sentence on TV.

"I thought, I can do better than that," Irvine says. "Steve's a really nice guy, but we just looked dumb. We need someone who can talk about the party."

The next day, Irvine e-mailed leaders of the Libertarian Party of Ohio to let them know he was thinking about running for the 12th District seat. About a year later, to very little fanfare, Irvine officially announced his campaign.

He collected signatures, filed paperwork and won his primary May 4. Then he began the peculiar pursuit of running in a hotly contested Congressional district as a candidate no one had ever heard of.

"I've always been a third-party guy," he says. "In third grade, I was the only kid in class who voted for Ross Perot in our mock election. Everyone's fighting about how to do something, when you should be asking, 'Should we do it?'"

In a way, Irvine had prepared his entire life for a legitimate run as a Libertarian. In another, a dude who had done everything else was simply in the right place at the right time.

"I had the experience in Washington," he says. "I had the experience running a campaign. I had the experience with the Libertarian Party. It was three things that just added up."

Starting in June, he attended community events and festivals. He fought to be included in policy debates and newspaper endorsement meetings, most of which included only major-party candidates. He scoured the parts of Franklin, Delaware and Licking counties included in Ohio's 12th District.

And he made videos.

Irvine launched his film career several years ago with a horror spoof called "Coons! Night of the Bandits of the Night," the first movie ever to use real frozen animals with opposable thumbs. He followed that with "American Mayor," a documentary about his 2007 Bexley mayoral campaign that's getting worldwide distribution later this year.

Denied traditional outlets to discuss his platform, Irvine's imagination ran wild. His online campaign videos were a bit crazy but clever, wild but smart.

One imagined Paula Brooks as a hyperactive carpet-store manager who "just loves bagging carpet." It was the most inventive jab at the Democrat contender, who doesn't live in the district where she ran.

Another, ruthlessly titled "Fatcat Tiberi," pictured a convincing lookalike of the Republican incumbent eating fistfuls of money, a knock on his votes to raise his own salary.

"There was something for everybody," Irvine says. "The people in Brooks' camp loved 'Fatcat Tiberi,' and the people in Tiberi's camp loved the one about Brooks."

Because his campaign came under a bare minimum of scrutiny, Irvine had the luxury to be rebellious. Eventually, his videos caught the attention of mainstream media and routinely made their way onto the Libertarian Party's national website.

A series of 30-second spots published on a YouTube channel accomplished the foremost goal of all third-party candidates: People took notice.

"I got some calls asking whether I was concerned," says Mark Noble, the Libertarian Party's Franklin County chair. "I'm inclined to give people a lot of slack, and that paid off in his case."