Summer's ending, the weather's getting more bearable, and the election season is getting hotter. Here's a look at what strange things have been happening in campaigns around the country.
Dog mayor re-elected to third term
Duke, the mayor of Cormorant, a town of 1,000 in Minnesota, was elected to a third term last week. His owner, David Rick, told the Kansas City Star, “Everybody voted for Duke, except for one vote for his girlfriend, Lassie."
Duke is a 9-year-old Great Pyrenees. Despite the fact that he doesn't ever go to work and won his first election by accident, no one seems to mind that he is in charge of the town. Even though he is elderly in dog years, it appears that he released no medical records while campaigning. Duke is not the youngest mayor to ever serve in the state: Dorset, Minnesota, elected 3-year-old James Tufts last year. Tufts's brother Bobby, who is now 7, also served two terms as mayor of the tiny town of about 20 people. However, the political dynasty didn't stand a chance in an election year favoring outsiders; James lost to 4-year-old carpetbagger Gwendolyn Davis of Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier this month.
Florida politics proceeding as usual
Florida was home to the most heartrending prose about the election this month.
"The Coral Reef Library polling station in South Dade is a house divided. They’re not divided about Cuba. Or the Middle East. Or even Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. They’re split over whether Ana Rivas Logan, candidate for the state Senate, yelled at primary opponent Andrew Korge: 'I’m going to kick your ass.'"
The Miami Herald also published a story about a man involved in a Supreme Court case about his houseboat that featured the headline, "Since moving his houseboat, he’s dealt with drones and poop. Now it has sunk under murky circumstances."
The local angle: Stealing the election edition
Last week we investigated where campaign signs come from; now it's time to think about those who make them disappear long before the election is over. A handful of people got in trouble for pilfering signs supporting candidates they didn't like this month, including Tennessee state representative Curry Todd, who stole his opponent's signs, got arrested, and then was bailed out by that same opponent. "Someone called me and said Curry Todd is still in jail and nobody's posted his bond yet," challenger Mark Lovell told the Commercial Appeal. "I thought, we don't need our state representative in jail. He can get out and the judge can decide what to do about it later." Police in El Paso were also looking for someone who stole the sheriff's campaign signs from a window at a Mexican restaurant, and a couple in Richardson, Texas, thinks that the same person who kept stealing their Hillary Clinton signs — replacing them with "Hillary for Prison 2016" notes under the welcome mat — also poisoned and killed their dog.
The most popular signs for stealing, it seems, have Trump's name on them. If anyone thinks this sounds like a reasonable act of defiance, just look at this security footage and see how stupid you look when stealing a sign. There's a reason that even the worst superheroes have never stolen one from their archenemies.
One guy in Johnstown, Pennsylvania saw that his sign was gone immediately after it was stolen. “I got down to the shop in the morning and said, 'Geez, my Trump sign is gone,' he told the local TV station. "I noticed because I always look at it."
There is also a serial sign-napper in Walpole, Massachusetts; after stealing three Trump signs from a yard, the bandit left a note. “I can only believe you thought that you were outsmarting me when you put the sign on the tree,” it said. “This is clearly false, because there is no way that a Trump supporter can outsmart anyone. ... Not even a great wall will stop me.”
Little ballot feud on the prairie
A year ago, Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert decided to run for Congress in Michigan. In May, she announced that she was dropping out of the race because of health issues. Regardless of that decision, she still won the Democratic primary this month, which led the state Democratic party to beg for an opportunity to replace her with someone who could actually campaign in the fall; thanks to a 1929 law, candidates can be taken off the ballot if they leave the state or are "physically unfit." The GOP, eager to run against a nonexistent candidate, fought back. “Members of Congress often have illnesses or injuries that require hospitalization or time away from their official duties,” the state Republican Party's lawyers argued. “Such illnesses or injuries do not necessarily render a member of Congress physically unfit to serve.” But the Secretary of State granted the Democrats' request, and Gilbert is now officially out of the race.
In other sort-of celebrity election news, a "cowboy turned reality show contestant" lost a Republican state senate primary in Oklahoma.
The local angle: Why you should always vote
Primary season is almost over, and if there's one resounding lesson to take away from it, it's that everyone should vote! Most Americans probably didn't even know that there was another round of primaries to deal with after the presidential ones, and the exceptionally low turnout made for many a close race. In down-ballot elections, a single vote can really make a big difference.
These close races often lead to recounts. In a Democratic state House primary in Vermont this month, the results were actually reversed after the recount; the candidate who thought he was ahead by 10 votes ended up 19 votes behind after the ballots were tallied again.