AUSTIN-A wealthy businessman and media personality who campaigns on dismantling the political establishment, promises to preserve traditional, working-class values and unabashedly promotes his own brand at every turn.
Before Donald Trump 2016 there was "Pass the biscuits, Pappy" in Depression-era Texas.
Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel hadn't held elected office but used his fame as a radio host and fortune as a flour mogul to win two terms as Texas governor beginning in 1938. He kept virtually none of his campaign promises but still eventually won a U.S. Senate seat over Lyndon B. Johnson and inspired a populist politician character in the 2000 Coen Brothers film, "O Brother Where Art Thou."
"Like Trump, Pappy was in the entertainment business," said Bill Crawford, an Austin author who has written two books on O'Daniel. "He came out of nowhere as a businessman and rode a media wave that no one in the establishment anticipated."
O'Daniel was a Fort Worth flour salesman and advertised by hosting a daily radio show broadcast statewide. It featured a band including Bob Willis, a famed fiddler who became known as the king of Western Swing music.
Later, O'Daniel founded his own company, Hillbilly Flour, and wrote a theme song ending with, "We hope you'll say, 'Please pass the biscuits, Pappy.'" It wasn't exactly "You're fired," but became a Texas household refrain.
Unlike Trump, O'Daniel never ran for president. Elizabeth Sanders, a Cornell University professor who studies populism, said towering political figures such as O'Daniel and Huey Long, the former Louisiana governor and senator, traditionally flourished in statewide elections but were for decades blocked by political parties from succeeding in nationwide presidential primaries. That is, until Trump stunned GOP powerbrokers by romping to the nomination this year.
"You find these characters that seem like Trump, but you find them at the state level," Sanders said. "They had one-party systems and anyone could enter a primary."
In O'Daniel's day, Texas was staunchly Democratic and winning the party's primary made the general election an afterthought.
Trump's campaign has spent millions of dollars paying the candidate's own companies and family members-including using jets and helicopters owned by a Trump company and covering rental and catering fees at the candidate's properties, including his Florida mansion, Mar-A-Lago.
O'Daniel didn't have the same corporate empire to promote but was open about running to boost flour sales. He first proposed a gubernatorial campaign while on the air in April 1938 and announced his candidacy two weeks later-claiming he'd gotten around 50,000 supportive letters.
O'Daniel promised to shun traditional politicians and govern Texas like a business while establishing pensions for the elderly and opposing a state sales tax. He'd been a registered Republican, but O'Daniel hadn't voted in previous Texas elections-saying no politician was worth paying the state's $1.75 poll tax. Trump, now a Republican, was once a registered Democrat; and records he indicate he failed to vote in many past elections.
Major media outlets first scoffed at O'Daniel's candidacy. The Huffington Post declared last summer that it was only going to cover the Trump campaign as an entertainment story. But O'Daniel launched a statewide tour that proved so popular that when towns weren't included on his itinerary, residents would line roadways and force his caravan to stop.
"It was the theme of, 'Come to me, I'm making money and can protect you from the evil forces that are out there,'" Crawford said.
Trump thrives on huge rallies and is adept at getting his message directly to voters via Twitter. He also spent months calling TV news talk shows personally. O'Daniel abandoned Texas' weekly gubernatorial press conferences and instead appealed straight to the electorate via his radio broadcast.
Trump has self-financed much of his campaign but also raked in donations. O'Daniel vowed to bankroll his own campaign too but accepted campaign-stop contributions. He ended up making more in donations and flour sales than he spent campaigning, Crawford said.
As governor, O'Daniel failed to deliver pensions and agreed to support policies tantamount to a sales tax. When Texas Sen. Morris Sheppard died, O'Daniel tapped an 87-year-old replacement who quickly died himself-allowing the governor to run to replace him in a 1941 special election.
After edging Johnson by about 1,000 votes, O'Daniel accomplished little while seeing his popularity wane since he was in the Senate and no longer on Texas radio.
More recently, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was a conservative Houston radio host who followed in O'Daniel's footsteps, even broadcasting from the state Capitol after joining the Legislature in 2007.
"Pappy was a caricature," said former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who likened Patrick to O'Daniel during a bitter 2014 Republican primary. "But he was an appealing caricature."