Durham’s mayoral race has gone to the dogs.
Candidates don’t officially start filing until July 7, but those who’ve already announced they’re running include a hip-hop artist, the owner of a talent agency, a current City Council member and a former city councilman.
But the newest candidate, a black and white pit bull mix named Obie, may have a leg up on his opponents — four legs, in fact — as well as a much better sense of smell.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Why Obie for Mayor? I’ve lived in Durham all my life,” Obie tweeted. “I had a hard early life and know how important it is to have a helping hand.”
Obie’s humans include Sean Haugh, a pizza delivery man who has run for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian in 2002, 2014 and 2016.
So far Obie’s campaign, announced on Twitter Thursday night, centers on ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the smells and sights in the city.
“If young people have good jobs, then they will be happier, and much more likely to pet me. Dogs don’t need jobs, just pets,” Obie tweeted.
“Also, pork rinds. If you have some pork rinds on you and give them to me between pets, I will be your friend!”
Obie’s campaign website will be rolled out in the next couple of weeks or so, said Haugh, 56, of Durham.
Haugh and his wife first met Obie as a puppy that a neighbor had brought home. They left him chained outside, and he was getting loose on occasion.
“We finally just went ahead in put him in our yard, and went over to the neighbors’ and convinced them that Obie would be better off with us,” Haugh said.
The law technically only lets humans run for office, Haugh said, so Obie will have to be a write-in candidate.
Obie is about 9 1/4 years old, about 58 in human years.
“So I’m old and wise enough to lead,” Obie tweeted.
One tweet, however, could stir some controversy.
“Cats are okay too! I like cats! I don’t think they are dogs,” he said. “But still okay. I will protect your yards from squirrels and possums.”
You may be what his stance are on Durham’s issues, like violent crime: “He generally avoids people who aren’t ready to pet him,” Haugh said. “I think he doesn’t really quite understand why people wouldn’t want to be nice to each other.”
You may think a dog running for mayor is absurd, but it’s not unheard of.
As Obie pointed out, there is a long history of dogs, cats (even a goat or a cow) serving well as mayors.
“Note: No possums or squirrels have ever been elected to public office,” Obie tweeted. “There’s a reason I bark at them when they are in my yard.”
Age: 9 and 1/4 in dogs years
Weight: 60 pounds
Breed: Pit bull mix
Platform: Obie knows what it is like for a stranger to take him in. He thinks people should behave that way towards others to make the city better. He is also very interested about the welfare of dogs and plans to encourage people to adopt dogs and take in strays.