One of the candidates in the race to become Fairhope, Alabama's next mayor is considerably more hairy than the rest. He also has twice as many legs and a constantly wagging tail. Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane is a 7-year-old yellow Labrador retriever whose owner has taken a satirical poke at politics by launching the pooch into the race.
But Willie Bean may not be up for that rough-and-tumble world.
"When a little dog barks at him, he cringes and he runs away," owner Tress Turner told the Press-Register in a story Sunday.
Turner, 43, manages The Coffee Loft, which is also the dog's campaign headquarters where supporters can purchase T-shirts and yard signs.
Some of his supporters say all the politicking, name-dropping and sign-maneuvering in the seven-man Fairhope mayoral race is wearing on them weeks ahead of the Aug. 26 election.
"I think he polishes up the field," said Vince Kilborn, 66, of Fairhope. "We need new blood."
Kilborn, former Gov. Don Siegelman's chief attorney in his ongoing criminal corruption case, added about the dog: "He doesn't have any skeletons in his closet. He's eaten them all."
The dog's campaign began when a mayoral candidate placed a campaign sign on property that bordered the politically-neutral coffee shop about three weeks ago.
Turner told the candidate about her wish to remain out of the race, but he had permission from the neighboring property owner and the sign remained for a few days.
"Then, sure enough, customers started pulling in the parking lot and giving us a hard time," Turner said.
The owner of the coffee shop taped a sign to the door saying The Coffee Loft did not endorse the candidate.
"It turned into just people laughing and joking and playing. And I was, like, 'You know what? We are going to let Willie Bean run for mayor,'" Turner said.
Willie Bean doesn't have a realistic shot at being Fairhope's next mayor since the July 15 qualifying deadline has passed. Still, other dogs have held office.
In 2004, Rabbit Hash, Ky., elected Junior Cochran, a black Lab, as mayor. It was the second canine elected to lead the small Northern Kentucky town, according to the town's Web site. The first was a mutt named Goofy Borneman, according to Laurie Lamblin, a resident and employee of the town's historic general store.
Julie Ford, a volunteer at The Haven, Fairhope's no-kill animal shelter, said Willie Bean is setting his sights too low.
"I think he should run for president," the 61-year-old Ford said after stopping by the coffee shop.