A tribute to the cat who ran for the U.S. Senate

NCC Staff
March 31, 2014

Among the most interesting and most viewed stories in Constitution Daily’s history is the tale of Hank the Cat, the feline who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. Today, we pay tribute to the Hank, who passed away last month at the age of 10.

Official Hank The Cat campaign photo
Official Hank The Cat campaign photo

Official Hank The Cat campaign photo

Unfortunately, we forgot to like Hank’s Facebook page (unlike 72,000 other people) or we would have been able to report his passing sooner.

The Facebook page, and the Huffington Post (where Hank was a guest blogger) reported his passing on February 13.

Hank’s sudden illness and passing led to more than 1,500 comments and tributes on his official Facebook page. He had kept an active social media presence up to the end (with some help from his campaign staff).

Hank also kept readers updated on the illness and passing of Tuxedo Stan, the Canadian cat who ran for office, and Mayor Stubbs of Alaska, the feline mayor who survived a dog attack.

The Hank story resonated with people for two reasons, aside from Hank’s obvious cat charisma. Back in 2012, the Virginia area was heavily blanketed with political television ads in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United decision. Some people decided a vote for Hank was a vote to show their uneasiness with the election race in general. (Hank ran his own low-cost viral video campaign and he survived a viral attack ad from a pro-canine PAC group.)

And Hank and his campaign staff were active advocates for animal rights issues. Right after the 2012 election, Hank’s campaign received contributions that were donated to animal groups.

During the election, candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen contested a bitter, expensive race that Kaine won.

Link: Constitution Daily’s original story on Hank

The Hank the Cat campaign started as a spoof, and then picked up momentum after the Washington Post profiled the cat, and the Huffington Post ran his blog. His campaign staff also did old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning.

Because there were only two candidates on the Virginia Senate race ballot, returns given to Hank’s staff indicted he received a large share of write-in ballots, which amounted to about a potential 0.17 percent of the vote.

Hank retired from politics immediately after the 2012 election.

In the past two years, our two stories about Hank were the third most-popular ones published on Constitution Daily. The only stories that gained more viral traction were a Plain English explanation of a tie in the Electoral College and a debate about the Second Amendment.

In a poll of Constitution Daily readers back in 2012, 54 percent believed Hank’s votes should count, while another 39 percent wanted to see his birth certificate first.

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