2012 ELECTION

Hank the Cat running for Senate

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(WJLA) - Deep down, Hank the cat may be a bit of a right-winger with a tendency to scratch up liberal literature.

Hank the Cat (Photo courtesy Facebook)

But he's smart enough to aim for the political center, running as a moderate for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.

The 9-year-old Maine Coon's mock Senate campaign has become a bit of an online sensation.

"He's running as an independent so he had to have a red and a blue tie, of course," said his owner 34-year-old Matthew O'Leary, who doubles as Hank's campaign manager.

O'Leary ran Hank as a write-in candidate in the recent state senate race as a joke. But when the four-legged underdog garnered nine votes, O'Leary was convinced Hank should aspire to higher office.

"He definitely has the face for politics we think."

O'Leary and his partner Anthony Roberts started the campaign as a bit of an inside joke, but now relish the opportunity to use Hank to mock the political status quo.

Hank even has a humble personal story. When he was five weeks old, he was almost put down when O'Leary and Roberts decided to take him in as a foster pet. They eventually adopted him.

Like any savvy campaigner, he's got an ad, stickers, signs and even a Facebook page.

"Just in the past 24 to 36 hours he's gotten about 2500 likes on his Facebook page already," O'Leary said.

Hank even got a special tweet from opponent George Allen welcoming Hank to the race.

Hank's platform is simple: he supports job creation and spay and neuter programs and refuses to run negative ads.

The "Hank for Senate" website has been jammed following a recent spate of publicity.

His campaign posters show the Maine Coon gazing upward and wearing a tie.

O'Leary says that if they receive any donations, they are going to give a portion of that money to various animal advocacy groups in the area. They also plan on hosting a "meet and greet" with the candidate that will serve as a fundraiser for those animal groups.

AP contributed to this report.

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