Talk about campaigning for a cause. Tennessee has a new political player in town, and his passion can match that of any seasoned, hard-hitting statesperson in town. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown is running for Tennessee governor for the sake of his beloved pet raccoon, Rebekah, who was unceremoniously taken away from her doting owner last July. When the state refused to hear his appeals for her return, including a petition and a lawsuit, Brown took the next obvious step: to run for governor.
Brown's bid for governor, which as he told local news station WBIR, is "all about the raccoon," began following Rebekah's seizure in July of 2013. No stranger to internet fame, Brown first rose to stardom after posting several YouTube videos of Rebekah, one of the more popular of which features himself in the shower with his baby girl.
Another video, which garnered over 1.3 million hits, was featured on CNN, with Wolf Blitzer allowing himself a giggle or two before returning to more somber news. But while Brown attracted plenty of fans with his bevy of admittedly adorable videos, he also attracted at least one unwelcome, unamused viewer: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Following their discovery of Brown's unlicensed dalliance with wildlife, TWRA agents forced Brown to turn over the animal, or face a fine and criminal charges.
A petition that garnered over 6,000 signatures was sent to the governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, but was reportedly never opened. He also filed a motion in state court last October to have Rebekah, his personal property, returned to him. This also came to naught, as the attorney general claimed that Brown willingly signed over raccoon Rebekah.
Faced with no further options, Brown decided to go to the root of the problem — incumbent Governor Bill Haslam. Brown truly puts all other pet owners to shame in terms of dedication and sheer devotion to his animal charges. His campaign began on January 3, when he released a YouTube video explaining his decision to run.
The video, truly unique in its unabashedly organic and genuine nature — in a scene that could've been a sitting for a still-life — assures Brown's supporters that if they call, he will answer the phone (something Brown certainly couldn't say for Governor Haslam.)
While he might not have known where he was going with the apple in the video, he certainly does know one thing: This campaign is all about Rebekah, and the promise to bring the United States back where it's supposed to be. For those of you who were wondering, that would be under and not above God.
If nothing else, Brown has certainly drawn attention to the unresponsiveness of the governor's office, with one blog post from the Nashville Scene asking, "What good is the right to petition your government for the redress of grievances if the government just doesn't bother to respond?"
Brown blames the silence specifically on Governor Haslam, saying that he "ignored cries from the entire United States," which made it look as though Tennessee were "under Caesar's law." By running for governor, it would appear that Brown hopes to bring Tennessee out of Roman dictatorships and into modern American democracy, where petitions are answered and raccoons are returned to their rightful owners.
While Brown's candidacy may seem like a far-fetched notion, he's gained considerable support for his cause, and his internet presence certainly will work in his favor. In fact, The Daily Caller, in an op-ed earlier this year, endorsed the unlikely candidate for the governorship, pointing out that "great leaders are moral leaders, resistant to the temptations of power, humble, honest, and trembling before almighty God."
Rebekah, the raccoon that launched a thousand YouTube views, was released into the wild last November. Perhaps Brown will one day be reunited with his pet raccoon, and with the voters' support, perhaps it will be in the governor's mansion.
Images: SwampMusic12/YouTube; CNN