Catalyst for change: Tim Kaine’s feline challenger gets documentary treatment

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Hank the Cat, who by some calculates received 9,000 elections in his quixotic bid for a US Senate seat in Virginia, died in 2014 but the spirit of his campaign lives on

Tim Kaine was the man to beat in 2012 when he bested Republican George Allen in a race for Virginias open Senate seat. Unknown to many however, Kaine also faced a second adversary, which some considered a cat-alyst for change.

A new documentary hopes to shed illuminate( or rather, lightly shed) on that campaign waged by a cat named Hank.

The trailer for Wild About Hank shows the cat nominee on posters, on a bumper sticker with the slogan Vote the humans out, and in a prow tie near the US Capitol building.

But it also displays his human supporters. When Hank popped up on the scene, it was like a ray of sunshine, one female said. Hank was someone to follow, another added. Something that we could have faith in and have trust in and actually believe in.

Hanks campaign began as irony by his proprietors, who were dissatisfied with the status quo of US politics. But the cat from Springfield, Virginia, soon earned widespread attention by media and fans alike. Four years later, his Facebook still has as many likes as Kaines Senate page. He even had a joking, anti-cat assault ad made against him.

Hank4Senate (@ Hank4Senate) August 22, 2012

Your one chance of owning our new limited edition bumper sticker begins now: http :// t.co/ JRQfUZEO pic.twitter.com/ DSJhwsPQ

The documentarys director, Emma Kouguell, heard of the cats story when she was researching animal-related subjects for films. Though Hank died in 2014, she began production on the documentary about 15 months ago and aimed to have it finished in time for the election.

Kouguell, a Virginia-based film-maker, asserted that the cinema is about much more than the cats campaign. Rather, to her, it is a matter of people unifying for change.

Running as an independent, the Maine coon cats platform included employment creation, animal rescue, spaying and neutering advocacy as well as campaign reform for more positivity and less attack ads.

The green-eyed feline never stimulated it on the ballot, but earned a few thousand handwritten votes in the state. An analysis by the Washington Post calculated about 2,000, while other outlets reported closer to 7,000. The official election results from the Virginia department of elections listed only the vote counts for the Democrat, Republican and all others. A total of 9,140 other referendums were cast, compared to 2,010, 067 for Kaine, the winner.

The film is initially about Hanks race for the US Senate seat. Its bizarre and he gets this attention and it might initially seem like its because hes a cute cat, Kouguell said. But the film tries to get further and deeper down from that and how people were actually believing in what Hank stood for.

In addition to his platform issues, Kouguell said all the money contributed to Hanks campaign was donated to animal welfare causes.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the narrative is still relevant today, she said of the necessity of achieving campaign reform.

The story gained additional relevance when Kaine was chosen as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. Kaine declined to participate in the film, according to Kouguell.

The film premieres in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the Museum of Natural Historys Cat Fest on Friday.

Such articles was revised on 5 August 2016 to correct the spelling of Emma Kouguells surname.

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