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Original photo by Chendongshan/ Shutterstock
8 Animals Who Have Held Political Office
Read Time: 5m
Article image
Original photo by Chendongshan/ Shutterstock

Politicians are often viewed as divisive figures, but over the years, there have been a few candidates who have garnered near-universal public support — and they tend to be furry. From mayorships to local council seats, a number of adorable animals have actually been elected to public government (although sometimes you may need to take that “elected” with a grain of salt). These cuddly creatures might be more concerned with napping and treats than taxes and potholes, but that doesn’t seem to deter the voters in these stories very much.

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Stubbs the Cat (Mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska)

Cute ginger cat closeup to the camera.
Stock Credit: Zubair Nawaz/ Shutterstock

For over 18 years, the small town of Talkeetna, Alaska, was unofficially governed by Stubbs the Cat, a ginger-haired feline who first came to power in 1998. Though technically the town had no real mayor, meaning Stubbs was never officially elected, locals widely approved of his leadership, with one resident saying, “He hasn’t voted for anything I wouldn’t have voted for.” Stubbs’ “office” was located at the local general store, which was operated by the beloved cat’s owners. In 2014, Stubbs was apparently drafted to run for national office during the Alaska Senate elections, though that campaign fell short. Nonetheless, Stubbs continued his mayoral duties back home, which mainly included wandering around town and napping. He died peacefully in 2017 at the ripe old age of 20.

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Clay Henry the Goat (Mayor of Lajitas, Texas)

Life size version of Clay Henry the Goat in Texas.
Credit: Michael Robertson/ Alamy Stock Photo

Clay Henry was a goat who was elected mayor of the small town of Lajitas in 1986. He became immensely popular, although less for his political beliefs and more for his beer-drinking prowess, since tourists would come from far and wide to visit the goat’s pen and ply him with libations. Though Clay Henry Sr. tragically passed away in 1992, he was subsequently stuffed and put on display so visitors could pay homage to the once-great mayor. This was just the beginning of a Kennedy-like political dynasty, however, as his son Clay Henry Jr. assumed the mayorship shortly after, followed by Clay Henry III. The town is now led by current mayor Clay Henry IV, whose beer-drinking abilities are as renowned as his great-grandfather’s.

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Max the Dog (Mayor of Idyllwild, California)

Golden retriever running on the grass with a tree branch.
Stock Credit: Chendongshan/ Shutterstock

On July 1, 2012, a golden retriever named Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller (or Max I) was inaugurated into office as mayor of Idyllwild, California, after winning two-thirds of the vote in an election sponsored by the Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends organization. In the days that followed, Max could often be seen about town wearing a plaid necktie and gold medal. At Mayor Max’s side were deputy mayors Mikey and Mitzi (also both dogs); as a group, they were collectively known as “the mayor and the spares.” Though Max I passed away in 2013, Mayor Max II assumed the role in the wake of his predecessor’s demise. The current mayor can be found on weekends traveling around town in the back of his official pickup truck and meeting with his constituents.

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Boston Curtis the Mule (Committeeman in Milton, Washington)

View of a mule standing in an open grass field.
Stock Credit: Korawat photo shoot/ Shutterstock

Electing animals to office isn’t just a modern phenomenon. In 1938, Democratic Mayor Kenneth Simmons nominated a “Mr. Boston Curtis” for Republican precinct committeeman in the town of Milton, Washington. With no opponents and also no additional information provided to the voters, Curtis was elected with 51 votes — and then subsequently revealed to be a mule. The mayor, a Democrat, had sponsored Boston’s candidacy as a prank, which apparently had a message — he went on to say that voters “have no idea whom they support.”

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Bosco the Dog (Mayor of Sunol, California)

Bosco, a black Labrador retriever, voted mayor of the unincorporated area of Sunol, California.
Credit: Roger Ressmeyer/ Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Now immortalized in a life-sized statue unveiled in 2008, a black Lab and rottweiler mix named Bosco Ramos defeated two humans to become mayor of Sunol in 1981, holding the office until his death in 1994. Bosco was known as America’s first dog mayor, and became a symbol of democracy and freedom — in 1989, he participated in a 30-hour pro-democracy rally outside the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. Though Bosco ran as a “Re-pup-lican,” he was a nonpartisan force and brought the town’s residents together, often to rub his belly.

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Jinx the Cat (Mayor of Hell, Michigan)

Black and white cat with white mustache close-up.
Credit: oksy001/ iStock

Jinx — a big-eyed black cat with a massive social media following on TikTok — became mayor of Hell, Michigan, for a single day in April 2022. The town has long offered humans the chance to become “Mayor of Hell,” but Jinx made history by becoming the first cat to hold said office. Jinx is perhaps the most popular of any of the animal candidates on this list, with over 735,000 followers on TikTok and 400,000 on Instagram at the time of writing — a support base that most politicians would love to achieve. Unfortunately, Jinx wasn’t mayor of Hell for long, as part of the agreement with the town includes being impeached at the end of the day.

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Lincoln the Goat (Mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont)

"Mayor" on Lincoln, a three-year-old goat, before the goat was sworn in, in Fair Haven, VT.
Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images

Lincoln the goat’s inauguration as mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont, in 2019 was not without its problems. On the day she was to be sworn in, she refused to get in her cage to travel to town hall, and had to be coerced with dinner. Then there was the issue of paperwork, as Lincoln couldn’t sign the documents to make her mayorship official. Thankfully, the Fair Haven town clerk had an ingenious idea, and placed an ink pad and piece of paper on the ground for Lincoln to stomp on, thus making her new status official. Though Lincoln has since left office, the town’s line of animal mayors has continued. Elsa the goat was elected in 2022, winning a hard-fought election and defeating Maddie the dog (who finished second), and Colonel Kernal the chicken (who came in third).

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Cacareco the Rhinoceros (São Paolo City Council)

A rhino with a tiny bird on their head.
Stock Credit: Rocchas/ Shutterstock

The only animal on this list to be elected yet never hold office, Cacareco garnered a whopping 100,000 votes (15% of the total) in the São Paolo, Brazil, city council election of 1959. Cacareco — a resident of the São Paolo zoo — was entered into the race by a group of students who, along with the town’s general population, were dissatisfied with existing politicians. One voter famously claimed, “Better to elect a rhino than an ass.” Unfortunately, local officials invalidated the results and held another election the following week, despite all of Cacareco’s votes being legitimately cast. Cacareco’s legacy lived on, however — the phrase “Voto Cacareco” became a widespread term signifying a protest vote in future Brazilian elections, and the rhino also inspired the creation of the Rhinoceros Party of Canada, a political faction once “led” by Cornelius the First.