During the 2003 recall election, the media seemed to need a third fringe
candidate to go with diminutive former child star Gary Coleman and
statuesque current porn star Mary Carey. Michael Wozniak unwittingly stepped
into that role when he was dubbed “the ferret guy”–on national television,
The retired Oakland police officer scored an interview with ABC’s Good
Morning America. After spending half an hour talking about issues like
workers’ compensation and border, they asked him if there was anything he
“would personally do” if he became governor. He answered the he would seek
to make it legal for Californians to own ferrets as pets.
“Of course, that’s the only part they used,” Wozniak said. “I instantly
became ‘the ferret guy.'”
This soon led to an invitation to appear on The O’Reilly Factor with Coleman
and Carey. Wozniak said he again tried to talk about other issues. This
quickly angered the famously volatile O’Reilly. But Wozniak went on to make
further appearances on CBS News, CNN and The Today Show.
While he repeatedly said that he did not want to become a single-issue
candidate, Wozniak admitted the ferret connection garnered him some support
he would not have had otherwise. He finished with 1,562 votes, good enough
to place 49th out of 132 eligible candidates on the ballot, while spending
“almost no money.” (Coleman placed 8th, Carey 10th).
These days, Wozniak runs a private investigations agency from his home in
Oakland, utilizing his two decades of experience as a police officer. He
works mainly through the Internet. “If it can’t be done here, it doesn’t get
done kind of thing,” he said. “I give out of a lot referrals.”
But he remains active in animal issues, working with dog and bird rescue
organizations. He also works with the California Domestic Ferret
Organization. The group helps place ferrets seized and surrendered in
California in good homes in other states; ferrets are legal in every state
except California and Hawaii.
His other passion is motorcycles. He works part-time at the Bob Dron
Harley-Davidson dealership in Oakland, and said “motorcycles have taken over
my life.” He is the West Coast vice-chairman of the Blue Knights Law
Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
He also runs a website called “Six Degrees of Michael Wozniak,” seeing how
many people he can meet–and what sort of connections there are between
them–in his work with motorcycles, animals, even the Smith & Wesson
Collectors Association. The site is linked up to numerous “Six Degrees”
pages put up by others.
While he remains interested in politics, Wozniak said he isn’t currently
planning any other runs for office. But he said he has no regrets.
“The fact that I got the word out [about ferrets] made it all worth it,”
Wozniak said. “Only in America. God this is a great country.”