Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Hank the Cat Storms Virginia

In the hotly contested Senate race in Virginia, about 170,000 of more than 3.5 million ballots cast separated the winner, Democrat Tim Kaine, and his GOP challenger, George Allen.

With a close race such as this one, each voter’s ballot held more weight than many other voters’ ballots across the country.

But about 5,000 Virginia voters apparently cast their ballots for a cat named Hank, whose satirical mission was to make a statement against the rancorous partisan fights that have overtaken the American political system. For them, it was a better bet than voting for the status quo.

“The Hank for Senate campaign, featuring a 9-year-old Maine Coon cat running for U.S. Senate, has been many things over the past few months: an introspective look at our political process, a welcome break from the typical and wasteful negative campaigns and, most importantly, a great excuse for more cute cat pictures on the Internet,” according to Hank’s website.

Hank garnered about 5,000 votes, according to his campaign manager Matthew O’Leary. O’Leary said that even though the Virginia Board of Elections doesn’t break down write-in votes by name, the counties where the large majority of write-in votes were cast were the same counties where the Hank campaign had been canvassing for votes.

“I think it’s still — even though percentage-wise it’s not really a huge difference in grand scheme of things as far as who is elected — a large wake-up call for politicians all over the nation because we’ve had so much support,” O’Leary said.

He added that, according to his own research, the number of write-in ballots cast was the highest number for a U.S. Senate race in Virginia.

“The fact that we’ve been able to get so many votes … really says that the political system is broken,” O’Leary said.

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