This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with the latest “dogcatcher” insult from the White House.

President Trump on Tuesday responded to Sen. Bob Corker's critiques of him in tweets, including saying Corker (R-Tenn.) “couldn't get elected dogcatcher in Tennessee.”

Corker has been elected to represent Tennessee twice in the Senate, and before that was elected mayor of Chattanooga. He never sought nor was rejected for the office of dogcatcher, but that's not because it's never been a real elective office. Here's a look at people who mounted successful campaigns for the job that is today used only as a punchline.

No one today is actually elected dogcatcher; they are simply unable to even be elected dogcatcher, as the saying goes. (Which, given that you can't actually run for the position, means that the insult applies to everyone. But we digress.)

This was not always the case.


Director Kornel Mundruczo is licked by a dog in Cannes on May 17, 2014. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

Slate already disintegrated the idea that people get elected as dogcatcher, in an explanatory post from 2010. “While the unofficial job of dogcatcher has existed for centuries,” Christopher Beam wrote, “it was only incorporated into state and local government operations as “animal control” in the 19th century. Since then, the job has almost always been filled by appointment.” Almost always.

To wit: S.H. Harper was elected dogcatcher in Monessen, Pa., according to a May 1908 edition of the Daily Independent. The story unfortunately fell at the edge of the ability of the scanning system to read everything, so we may never know what, exactly, Harper needed to do to prepare for his important job.

A few years earlier, William Missemer won a one-year term as dogcatcher in an election reported in the Moberly, Mo., Weekly Monitor. That news report was sandwiched between news of the investigation of the oiling of Emerson Street and an ordinance about a new sewer district. The theme, apparently, was “public utility news.”

When Nelson Hobart won unanimous election as dogcatcher in April 1963 in Willowbrook, Kan., according to the Hutchinson News, he got a different treatment than Missemer. The important update on his victory warranted not only a headline but also billing above the town's new mayor, council members and “police judge,” which sounds like a bit of a conflict of interest.

Some updates are . . . hard to read. For example, there's this update that ran in Pacific Stars and Stripes

Is this some sort of weird military humor about a man with no legs elected dogcatcher? Granted, the description that a candidate for a minor office would also be worried about people being out to get him rings true. So who knows.

Then there's poor Maurice Wigderson, who lost a race for secretary of state of Wisconsin and then was forced to endure the ignominy of learning that his candidacy had been compared to that of a dogcatcher. (Read through for some great gags on dogcatching.)


As we said, the idea of being elected dogcatcher was a joke even when people were still being elected dogcatcher. The Canyon News apparently used to produce an edition for the local high school. In October 1942, it reported on the results of the eighth-grade class elections. Young Harry Campfield won the (presumably honorary) title of dogcatcher.

Here's an Associated Press item that ran in the Manitowoc, Wis., Herald-Times in April 1967:

manitowoc-wi-herlad-times-4-1967

So there you go. When you're talking about the guy who couldn't even get elected dogcatcher, you're talking about poor Floyd Swan of Almond, Wis.


Update: David Jarman points us to a much more recent election. In March 2016, residents of Duxbury, Vt., reelected Zeb Towne as dogcatcher, over a sole vote of opposition — from Towne's wife.

Another update: The Tampa Bay Times's Craig Pittman pointed out this review from a February 1997 issue of Billboard on the death of Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's longtime manager.

parker

We weren't able to corroborate the story, but it's so perfect in every way that we had no choice but to include it.