Election time is coming soon and it won’t be long soon before the candidates really start showing their teeth as they try to rip one another to shreds. Of course, if you think most politicians act like animals, well wait until you hear about these eight literal political animals.
One of the most famous animals with a political office is Stubbs the Cat, who has served as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska for the past 15 years. When he was just a kitten, Stubbs won by write-in vote beating out a number human candidates whom the majority of the town’s 900 residents found to be undesirable mayoral-candidates.
The mayor might not have much power as Talkeetna is a historical district, but he has brought in a lot of tourist and his constituents seem to be happy with him, "He doesn't raise our taxes -- we have no sales tax. He doesn't interfere with business. He's honest," said Lauri Stec, manager of Nagley's General Store, which doubles as the mayor's office.
A black lab named Junior Cochran was elected mayor in Rabbit Hash, Kentucky back in 2004. He received over 3,000 votes. Interestingly, there was a dog elected mayor of the town once before that, although I can’t find any information on the previous mayor. Junior was quite popular in the town and even starred in an Animal Planet documentary called “Mayor Dog.”
Unfortunately, he died only four years into his term at the tender old age of 12. "He was a great mayor. The kids all liked him the best and they would do Old Timers Day, Labor Day weekend was the biggest day he could come down and kids just loved it," said Rabbit Hash resident Suzanne Hobbs in memory of her town’s great leader.
Rabbit Hash wasn’t about to just give up on Junior’s legacy that easily. Shortly after his death an election was held to find a new mayor. The race was ruthless, including 10 dogs, a cat, an opossum, a mule –and one outmatched human who conceded early on election day. In the end though, the office went to the dogs –or at least, one specific dog, Lucy Lou, a red-and-white border collie who garnered over 8,000 votes.
Lucy Lou is still in office six years later and she’s maintained her policies on feline and canine accessability in the General Store. She is also very active in local fundraising events.
Rabbit Hash and Talkeetna are far from the only towns who have elected critters for mayors and it’s not only house pets who have filled political offices. Lajitas, Texas had a beer-swilling goat named Clay Henry III serving as mayor from 1986 through 2011.
If you’re wondering how he served that long, that’s because there were actually three goats named Clay Henry to serve as mayor of Lajitas –the first one was elected all the way back in 1986. The first Clay Henry died in 1992 and his son took over until he died in 2000. Unfortunately, the legacy ended with Clay Henry III, as he was castrated by an angry local man in 2006, who was jealous that the goat was allowed to drink on Sunday when the rest of the town went dry for the Lord’s Day. Clay Henry III died in 2011, but you can still come by and see the taxidermied ex-mayor, posed with a beer bottle in his mouth, at the Terlingua Trading Post.
Of course, the town had a good reason for electing the goats as mayor –the beer-drinking mayors have greatly increased tourism to the small town, even in a taxidermied state.
The problem with having an animal serve as your mayors is that most critters just don’t live that long –and no one seems to have the foresight to elect a parrot or giant tortoise. Sunal, California had a black lab/Rottweiler mix named Bosco serve as mayor for an impressive ten years, but he died in 1990 and since then, the city has returned to human leadership.
If you’re curious how these towns can get away with having an animal in power, well, the reality is that most of the towns are unincorporated, so the mayorship is mostly a ceremonial position that most critters can handle just fine.
Animals haven’t just been known to serve as mayor though. Some critters have much bigger political aspirations. Take, for example, Hank, the 9 year-old cat who is running for an open Senate seat in Virginia. While Hank hasn’t used any mudslinging in his ads, Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow has been slamming him for his use of catnip and lack of military service, which might be why he’s not showing up highly in any of the polls right now.
Talk about big dreams, Molly, a dachshund, ran for president in the 2008 presidential race on the BYOB ticket. If the problem was a lack of publicity, well, she’s running again this year, so let’s help get her name out there people. She’s certainly much more adorable than either Obama or Romney, but I don’t think she can legally qualify for president being as how she’s only six and the president must be at least 35 –that is, unless dog years count.
There are some roles that animals are actually better qualified for though. After all, precinct committeemen are basically just there to help recruit new voters and gain support for their party. That’s why Boston Curtis, a mule, could have been such a great precinct committeeman. Unfortunately, he was elected in 1938 as the Republican committeeman while looking just like the main symbol of the Democrats. Even so, he won 51 to zero –although that was really because he was the only candidate running. No word on how well he did in the position, but he certainly entertained the nation.
Think Animals Are Bad?
Well, at least all of the animals are at least living breathing things. In 1967, the small Ecuadorian village of Picoaza elected a brand of foot powder to the mayor’s office. That’s because Pulvapies, the foot powder company, thought that running a mock political campaign for their product would be a great marketing campaign. Their slogan was “Vote for any candidate, but if you want well-being and hygiene, vote for Pulvapies.”
The campaign worked, but not the way they intended it to –Pulvapies won the election. Unfortunately, while I’m sure you’re all just as curious as I am to know what they did after the results were announced, no English-speaking media outlets bothered to cover the aftereffects of the election.
So what do you guys think? Personally, I think Hank might do a better job than most senators and he’s certainly a lot more likeable, as are most of these candidates –even the foot powder.