With election season in full swing — and all the mudslinging and territorial behavior involved — sometimes it seems like the candidates are acting like animals. If you've ever found yourself wondering if a four-legged candidate might make a better elected official, you're not the first. That's the line of thinking that led people to register their cats to run for office or to cast their ballots for the local mule.

Non-human candidates are often used to satirize the political system or to protest the other candidates. Other times, it's just pure entertainment value. Regardless of intent, there's a long list of politically ambitous animals in U.S. history, and we've rounded up some of the most interesting — and adorable — political animals to date.

Hank

Hank is a 9-year-old Maine Coon whose political career began when his owners offered him as a write-in candidate in a Virginia election as a joke. The feline garnered nine votes and thus began Hank's campaign for the state's open Senate seat. Hank, who's running as an independent, has an affinity for plaid ties and supports spaying-and-neutering programs. While he's refrained from mudslinging, he's recently become the target of a negative ad sponsored by Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow. The ad points out that Hank hasn't responded to allegations that he's used catnip, and that while he says he's been to the vet, there's no record of his serving in any military branch.

Clay Henry

For many years, a series of goats named Clay Henry served as the mayors of Lajitas, an unincorporated community in Texas. The first Clay Henry was elected in 1986 and enjoyed widespread popularity for increasing tourism in the area. Known as the “beer-drinking goat,” Clay Henry had no legal power, but he knocked back quite a few cold ones at the hands of visitors until his death in 1992. Afterward, his son, Clay Henry II, took over the gig, and in 2000 Clay Henry III was elected mayor. Tragedy struck in 2006 when a local man — who was jealous that the goat was drinking on Sunday when the region's blue laws prevented alcohol sales — castrated Clay Henry III. The goat made a full recovery, but he was the final goat to serve as Lajitas’ mayor. (Note: The Human Society advises against giving animals alcohol and lists it as a potential poison.)

Lucy Lou

The mayor of Rabbit Hash, Ky., is a red-and-white border collie who’s been serving the unincorporated community since 2008. Lucy Lou won the election after a heated race against 10 dogs, a cat, an opossum a mule and even a human. According to Rabbit Hash’s election results, “an estimated 215 percent of local registered and unregistered voters swarmed the polls” on Nov. 5 during this “highly contested race.” Travis the cat was the early frontrunner, causing the mayoral race’s lone human candidate to concede early in the day, but when polls closed that evening, Lucy Lou had won it with more than 8,000 votes. Lucy Lou supports feline and canine presence in the General Store and often lends her support to local fundraising events.

Boston Curtis

In 1938, a long-eared brown mule won the post of Republican precinct committeeman for Milton, Wash., with 51 votes. Boston Curtis’ win didn’t come as a surprise since he ran uncontested; however, the city’s residents were surprised to discover that they’d voted for an animal. The mule’s victory was engineered by Mayor Kenneth Simmons, a Democrat, who had taken Boston Curtis to the courthouse and registered him to run by signing the necessary documents with hoof prints. Why did the mayor run a mule for office? Simmons gave two reasons: He wanted to embarrass the Republican Party by having them vote in a relative of the Democratic donkey, and he wanted to prove that voters often didn’t know whom they were supporting.
Stubbs
This part-manx cat has served as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, for 15 years and has enjoyed widespread popularity in the 900-person town. Because Talkeetna is technically a historical district, Stubbs serves in a figurehead role, but he’s become a big draw for tourists. Perhaps his popularity — the cat has thousands of Facebook subscribers — has gone to his head though. This mayoral manx drinks water and catnip from a wine glass every afternoon and frequently meows until he’s picked up.

Pigasus

This 145-pound boar hog was the preferred presidential candidate for the Youth International Party, or Yippies, in 1968. Named after Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology, Pigasus was nominated for the presidency at a rally outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention on Aug. 23. Pigasus’ owner, Phil Ochs, demanded that the pig be given Secret Service protection and access to foreign policy briefings, but the hog’s candidacy didn’t last long. Pigasus, Ochs and other Yippies were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Molly

A 6-year-old dachshund from Oklahoma ran for office in the 2008 U.S. presidential race under the BYOB party. Although Molly didn’t present much of a threat to Obama, it seems she’s giving it another go in 2012. To ensure she's truly the bark of the people, Molly's website says that the pup will rely on her constituents to develop her platform. Visitors to the website can vote in a series of polls to help frame Molly’s opinions, making the dachshund “a more finely tuned political weather vane than either Barack or Mitt.”

Click for photo credits

Photo (Hank): hankforsenate.com

Photo (Clay Henry): Wikimedia Commons

Photo (Lucy Lou): rabbithashusa.com

Photo (Stubbs): ibtimes

Photo (Pigasus): Wikimedia Commons

Photo (Molly): mollythedog.com

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