U.S. politics can be full of monkey business, but a new campaign in Florida takes its meaning to a whole new level.
The "mystery monkey of Tampa Bay," who has gained celebrity status in the Sunshine State, is now in the running for mayor of Tampa.
"I am fed up with partisan poo-flinging," the monkey, who has yet to reveal his true self or his whereabouts to the public, said in a statement announcing his campaign. "The taxpaying citizens of Tampa have been driven bananas by the out-of-touch political establishment and want someone who will fight for them. I am the candidate voters will choose to navigate Tampa safely through this jungle of uncertainty."
The monkey launched his campaign this week with a sophisticated website, a Twitter account boasting 694 followers and a Facebook page with 172 fans. There are free iPhone and Android apps that fans can download.
Tampa's infamous monkey has run amok in the city for nearly a year, boggling officials while gaining national stardom. It has more than 81,000 fans on its Facebook page, and the mystery monkey has been featured on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel show and Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," an appearance that forms the basis of the mysterious animal's first campaign ad.
The monkey, who has no publicly-revealed name, joins a crowded mayoral field of six other candidates. But to many residents' dismay, his chances may be short-lived.
Its campaign hasn't filed official paperwork, and most importantly, it doesn't quite fit the requirements set by city election officials.
The city of Tampa's election law specifically states that "any person possessing the prerequisite qualifications may upon compliance with all applicable provisions of law and ordinance qualify as a candidate and have said person's name placed upon the ballot." The monkey, officials say, doesn't fit that category because after all, it's not a person.
Nevertheless, the campaign has taken the city by a storm.
"This is pretty unprecedented," said Travis Abercrombie, public information coordinator for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office.
The mystery monkey's campaign may be ape talk to some, but this isn't the first time that an animal has run for public office. And there may be more of these furry creatures occupying the position of their city's heads of state than one may think.
Take Rabbit Hash, Ky. -- population unknown -- for example. The town is governed by a red and white border collie named Lucy Lou, who succeeded another dog, Junior Cochran, in 2008.
Lou beat ten dogs, one cat, one opossum, one jackass, and one human being to win the coveted position. The dog -- whose campaign slogan read "The B**ch You Can Count On" -- received 8,085 votes, compared to a mere two for the human being.
Across the country, the 26-person town of Guffey, Colo., boasts "Monster the Cat" as its mayor. The black cat with sharp green eyes was elected in 1998 on the Democratic ticket and has since then "served with disinterest and occasional violent outbursts against tourists and local animals," according to its MySpace page.
It's doubtful the mystery monkey will follow in the footsteps of these other furry creatures who occupy their city's highest, most powerful positions.
But win or lose, it has certainly succeeded in grabbing headlines with its unusual campaign.
The mayor's election in Tampa will be held on March 8, 2011.