December 09, 2005
Friedman files

Kinky Friedman has filed his declaration of intent to run as an independent candidate for governor with the secretary of state. He also provided a glimpse of his campaign strategy.

Friedman told a few dozen supporters and reporters huddled for a brief, sidewalk announcement that his real opponent was not Gov. Rick Perry, but voter apathy.

Only 29 percent of Texas' voting age population cast ballots in the 2002 gubernatorial general election.

"If we can get the 29 percent who voted last time up to 39 percent, it'll all be over, and there will be a whole new spirit blowing through Texas," he said. "There will be a smile on everybody's face and a chill up the spine of every politician."

Allow me to quote PerryVsWorld here:

Lots of folks base their campaign plans on changing the turnout model into one more favorable to them. We generally have a name for these candidates: losers.

If that's Friedman's plan to win, then I predict that in the end, he will underperform his poll numbers. Remember how Ralph Nader generally polled better than 5% in 2000? He finished with 2.7%, and he was going for a similar audience, the disaffected voter. Voting is a habit, and so is not voting. It's not easy to change that kind of behavior. But hey, good luck to ya for trying.

Friedman was interviewed in Bookslut recently, and reading it just reminds me of all the reasons why I can't take his candidacy seriously. I can't tell what he stands for, other than a dislike for political parties. I also can't tell if he really knows how the government of this state works. Here's what I mean:

Do you think you'd be able to work with the Democrats and the Republicans in the state legislature?

Absolutely. I will charm their pants off. Invite 'em over, we'll have some barbecue, smoke some cigars together, and we'll get this thing rolling. And a lot of things can be done without the legislature, by the way. I'll tell you five things a governor could do right now. One, have a listed telephone number, so during certain hours, he could talk to the people, because I think this governor is out of touch with the people of Texas, not to mention the spirit of Texas. Two, biodiesel. Put that in all the school buses and all the state police (cars). You can do that by decree. Three, I plan to open the Indian casinos that have been closed down -- the Tigua and the Alabama Coushata. Four, the (state university) Boards of Regents. I want to fill them with the best, brightest young people, not old farts that have given the most money. Let's get college students (on the Boards) who are really passionate about education. And finally, I'd like to rename four state highways after Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, and Buddy Holly. Not toll roads, by the way.

Let's put aside the question of whether or not these things represent top priorities for him and just examine his assertion that they can be done by gubernatorial fiat. If a governor can name a road for someone, then why did the Lege waste its time on bills to do that in the last regular session? Who needs Martha Wong if Rick Perry can make Ronald Reagan Circle a reality?

As for the casinos, has he spoken to Greg Abbott or David Van Os about this? I ask because it was then-Attorney General John Cornyn who was responsible for closing them in the first place.

Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, had filed a lawsuit in 1999 to shut down a casino operated by the Tigua tribe in El Paso, saying it violated the state's limited gambling laws. In 2002, federal courts shuttered the Tiguas' casino and Cornyn used that ruling to shut down the Alabama-Coushuttas' casino.

Last I checked, governors cannot override state laws on their own, and I rather doubt that either the incumbent or hopeful AG would let him try this without a fight. If what he really means is that he plans to introduce legislation to legalize casino gambling in Texas (and that is something he favors), how does he plan to overcome the bipartisan objections to it that have sunk any expansion of gambling for years now? I ask again, how much does he actually know about what a governor can and cannot do in Texas? And while I don't expect this sort of thing from a Bookslut blogger, it would be nice if some of the reporters who write fluffy stories about Kinky Friedman action figures and reality TV shows would bother to bring these questions up. If he really is as serious a candidate as he claims to be, he can darn well handle them.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 09, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack