An Internet legend entered the Tennessee gubernatorial race in an effort to get back his pet raccoon, who was seized by authorities last year.
Mark 'Coonrippy' Brown, 55, stole the Internet's heart after videos of him showering with his pet raccoon, Rebekah, went viral on YouTube. Since July, he's been fighting to regain custody after wildlife officials went to his home in Gallatin and confiscated her.
He feels that his best chance to get Rebekah back is to challenge incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam in the Republican primary in August, the Gallatin News Examiner reports.
Brown's latest move follows two unsuccessful attempts to get his raccoon back. His letter requesting a permit from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency went unanswered, and a petition to Haslam with more than 60,000 signatures was reportedly never opened.
"Governor Haslam ignored the cries from the entire United States," Brown told the paper.
VIDEO: Mark 'Coonrippy' Brown showers with Rebekah (story continues below):
His bid for governor, which began on Jan. 4, is "all about the raccoon." His first campaign speech (video below) was as kooky and endearing as the story that brought him into the national spotlight.
"We are one nation under God -- not above God," he says in the video. "And just like the purity of this apple ... well, I don't know where I was going with that, but I guarantee there will be changes made. Changes you'll like. You call me, I promise I'll answer the phone."
He said he's not deterred by the fact that he has no campaign experience, and hopes he can ride his Internet fame on his way to freeing the raccoon. Brown has taken to his Facebook page to garner support.
Last year, a TWRA spokesman Don King said Rebekah was seized when a neighbor complained. King told The Tennessean at the time that raccoons simply aren't suitable as pets and can be unpredictable.