In the sometimes dog-eat-dog world of politics, Hank was the purrfect candidate.
Hank is a brown tabby cat that was born to a single mother living on the streets. Marked for execution at an animal shelter, Hank and the rest of his family were snatched from the jaws of death by an animal rescue group called Animal Allies. From there, Hank was adopted by a loving family in Springfield, Virginia, where Hank grew into a handsome, 13 pound feline with lots of ideas about how he thought the world could be made better.
Hank's political career began when one of Hank's owners, Matthew O'Leary, grew tired of seeing politicians' campaign signs along the road.
Thus began an unusual grassroots campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Running on a platform that included support for "spay & neuter programs", Hank's hat was thrown into the Senate race. His opponents were former Virginia governors George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D).
Lawn signs, T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers were produced, all featuring Hank's furry face.
Hank even had his own campaign commercial advocating, " It's OK to vote the humans out."
But Hank's campaign is about fixing the real problems that we all face everyday, not about his political career, self-promotion, or selling books.
Hank's campaign was completely self-funded. Hank refused to accept a penny from individuals, corporations, or special interests - so there's no worry about corruption or cronyism.
Hank knows that there are people suffering in the world, and as a rescue himself, he knew that he wouldn't be here today if it weren't for loving and caring individuals that save animals from euthanasia every day. That's why instead of campaign contributions, Hank requested that donations be made to rescue groups and no-kill shelters that save lives and help stop the suffering of the booming pet population.
The response was incredible. Hank drew support from across the US and around the world. He supporters crossed all party lines, including different species. Not only humans and fellow cats, but dogs, bird, ferrets and fish were all amongst his campaigner supporters.
After The Votes Were Counted
Alas, although Hank and his supporters gave it their all, the Virginia cat failed to claw his way into the state's open U.S. Senate seat, which was won by Democratic candidate Tim Kaine.
But Hank's campaign was not in vain. The brown tabby cat raised $60,000 for animal rescue organizations, AND placed third with 6,832 votes, according to a tabulation of write-in votes.
"Our campaign … is a perfect example of making your community better for everyone, even if you're just a cat."
A statement released by Hank's owners said: "With your incredible generosity and constant support, we have literally saved hundreds of lives."
Hanks Final Thoughts
I spent nothing on this campaign, donated all of my cash to charity, positively impacted my community by abiding by campaign promises (and FEC regulations) prior to the election, and dollar for dollar achieved more votes than any other candidate this political season. My campaign has changed political science forever, and hopefully politicians everywhere will base their campaigns on this efficient model for the better of all animal-kind," Hank said.
"With your incredible generosity and constant support, we have literally saved hundreds of lives - we have given countless critters another chance, innumerable families have added a new member to their clan, and many of us had our faith restored in the potential for positive change in our political system that overflows with negativity and greed," he said in a statement Tuesday night.
"As a citizen of Virginia, I feel it is now my duty to redouble my efforts to make sure Senator-elect Kaine is willing to sign my Animal Rescue Pledge, and I hope you will join me in making sure animals aren't ignored or forgotten," he said.