Alaskans are grieving the loss of one of their favorite politicians.
Granted, "favorite" and "politician" don't usually appear in the same sentence, but this public figure was different.
Sadly, after a two-decade career unmarred by public or personal scandal, Stubbs the cat passed away peacefully at his home. The people of Talkeetna, Alaska, elected the orange tabby as mayor in 1997, and he held court in his family's general store ever since.
A Precipitous Rise for a Tail-Less Ragamuffin
Lauri Stec, the manager of Nagley's General Store, arrived at work one morning in 1997 to find a woman giving away kittens. One of the kittens had no tail but plenty of personality, so Stec adopted him and named him Stubbs.
Shortly after Stubbs' adoption, the people of Talkeetna had a mayoral election. Though the position is ceremonial, voters were unhappy with their choice of human candidates.
That's when Stec started a write-in movement for Stubbs. The cat won the election and began his 20-year stint as a community leader.
Through his tenure as mayor, Stubbs garnered high approval ratings from everyone but the Talkeetna's dog population, of course. In 2013, Stubbs barely survived an assassination attempt from a canine constituent; the attack left Stubbs with a punctured lung, fractured sternum, and a 5-inch gash on his side.
Stubbs recovered and lived another four years as mayor of the small Alaskan historical district. After his passing, his Twitter account posted "20+ years. Several Uncontested elections. Thousands of naps. We had a good run."
Animal Politicians From Across the Country
Stubbs was far from the only animal to hold an elected office. Duke, a Great Pyrenees dog, won the ceremonial mayorship of Cormorant, Minnesota. Out of the 12 votes cast, Duke won a clear majority. Even Duke's opponent, Richard Sherbrook, admitted to ABC News that he voted for the canine candidate.
One of the earliest known canine mayors was named Bosco. The citizens of Sunol, California chose the Labrador/Rottweiler mix over two human candidates. The pup served for 13 years until his death in 1994.
High-Powered Positions Harder to Come By
Non-human candidates have had the most luck when sticking to ceremonial offices. Still, a number of animals (and inanimate objects) have ended up on the ballot for more important races.
Hank the Cat came in third for a U.S. Senate seat for Virginia. Tim Kaine won the seat and went on to run as Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate. Had Hank won that election, he might have been the first feline on a major party's presidential ticket. Instead, he spends his days, "taking his daily naps and getting excited about cheese."
No Pulse, No Problem
If you think dogs and cats are a long shot for elected office, consider inanimate objects. A fire hydrant, appropriately named Fire Hydrant, ran for the board of governors of the University of British Columbia. He or she came within five votes of being elected in 2005.
Though animals and objects don't get much done in office, they give us all a chuckle, and they rarely suffer a scandal. Human politicians could learn a thing or two.