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 ambitious animals in U.S. history, and we've rounded up some of the most interesting — and adorable — political animals to date.
For the first time in the history of Fair Haven, Vermont, a mayor has been elected. But the newly-elected mayor isn't your average politician. Lincoln, a 3-year-old Nubian goat, won the election by a whopping 13 votes and was sworn into office on March 12, 2019. Town Manager Joe Gunter came up with the idea to elect a mayor as a way to raise money for a new town playground, reports Burlington Free Press. The town has a population of about 2,700 residents and operates under a town manager and council government.
With a population of just about 300 people, the river town of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, is too small to need a real mayor. So in the late '90s, the town decided to hold a fundraiser, letting people pay a dollar to vote for mayor. Since then, four dogs have held the esteemed position, including most recently Brynneth Pawltro, a 3-year-old pit bull. In 2016, she defeated a cat, chicken, donkey and other contestants to win in a landslide, reports People. "She’s a lover, she’s such a sweet dog. She is a pit bull rescue and she’s going to be quite the ambassador for that breed," says Bobbi Kayser, who is on the board of directors for the Rabbit Hash Historical Society. The election was held as a fundraiser for the Rabbit Hash General Store after a devastating fire.
Larry is the chief mouser at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence. (Photo: Her Majesty's Government/Wikimedia Commons)
Not technically a candidate, this kitty certainly has political power. Larry the tabby cat moved into 10 Downing Street in London in 2011 to deal with a rodent problem in the Britain prime minister's residence. By all reports, the feline, known unofficially as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, did a bang-up job. So good, in fact, that when David Cameron vacated the famed home in July 2016 with Theresa May taking his place as prime minister, Larry stayed right where he was, reports the BBC. Larry is said to have a strong predatory drive and enjoys playing with mouse toys, two traits that likely make him good in his official position.
Hank was 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, ran as an independent, had an affinity for plaid ties and supports spaying-and-neutering programs. While he refrained from mudslinging, he became the target of a negative ad sponsored by Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow. Sadly, Hank passed away in 2014.
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 Humane Society of the United States advises against giving animals alcohol and lists it as a potential poison.)
It wouldn't be appropriate to mention Rabbit Hash without sharing a little history. The former mayor was a red-and-white border collie who served the unincorporated community from 2008 until January 2017. 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 supported feline and canine presence in the General Store and often supported local fundraising events. Lucy Lou was the only mayor to retire from office, according to Cincinnati.com.
In 1938, a long-eared brown mule won the post of Republican precinct committeeman for Milton, Washington, 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.
This part-manx cat served as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska from 1997 until his death in July 2017. He enjoyed widespread popularity in the 900-person town. Because Talkeetna is technically a historical district, Stubbs served in a figurehead role, but he became a big draw for tourists. This mayoral manx with thousands of Facebook subscribers used to drink water and catnip from a wine glass every afternoon and frequently meowed until he was picked up.
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.
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, she gave it another unsuccessful go in 2012. To ensure she was truly the bark of the people, Molly's website said that the pup would rely on her constituents to develop her platform. Visitors to the website could 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.”
Editor's note: This story was originally written in August 2012 and has been updated.