June 06, 2006
Kinky: I do too have issues!

Let's check and see how the Kinky Friedman campaign is going.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, best known for his satire and cigar, took his first halting steps toward dispelling the rap that he isn't versed on the issues.

He met with reporters for an hour to discuss political reforms and other issues.

Appearing uneasy at times and often deferring to his campaign director, Friedman said citizens should be allowed to place measures, such as casino gambling, on the ballot through a process called initiative and referendum.

You know, for a guy who's been running for Governor since 2003, it sure took him long enough to define some issues and articulate stances on them.

Friedman acknowledged his inexperience dealing with public policy details.

"I'm not the world's authority on this stuff. I'm not pretending to be," Friedman said as two documentary crews filmed the news conference.

Just what we need, another amiable but clueless guy in the big chair. That's worked so well for the country these past few years.

Look, Friedman's actual proposals are fine. Not original, mind you, and I agree with Chris Bell when he says they don't go far enough, but there's nothing objectionable to me. I even support his proposal to allow primary voters to sign a petition for independent candidates. I doubt that amounts to much in practical terms, but I've no problems with it.

But let's not kid ourselves. It's clear from reading all the coverage of this little press event that Friedman is a not-ready-for-prime-time player. Stuff like this doesn't cut it:

Meat-and-potatoes on issues were a natural next course, his staff said, now that the petitions needed for Mr. Friedman to get on the ballot have been filed for review by the secretary of state.

"Everyone wanted to know if Kinky was going to get serious, and we said 'Yes,' " said campaign spokeswoman Laura Stromberg. "We weren't going to spend time and resources coming up with political proposals when we weren't even assured a spot on the ballot."

Putting aside the fact that he's had nearly three years to come up with any proposals at all, perhaps if Friedman had spent one-tenth of the time he's given to documentaries, reality TV shows, and general self-promotion, he'd have been able to produce a little substance by now. But that's not the campaign he's run, and if there was any doubt about it before now, it should be dispelled.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 06, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

FYI, the Kinkster will be in town for a signing on Thursday night:


Posted by: Reg Burns on June 6, 2006 2:19 PM

Definitely a disappointment. Ok Kinky, we all had a good laugh. Now it's time for you to consider the well-being of Texans and get out of the race, otherwise we are stuck with Rick Perry.

Posted by: Dennis on June 6, 2006 2:30 PM

Stuff like this doesn't cut it


He needed to generate a buzz and get enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Mission accomplished.

He's going to raise money, maybe more than Chris Bell, no matter how many times wonkish bloggers (who constitute what, .0001% of the electorate? *smile*) call him out as clownish and amateurish.

His proposals don't HAVE to be detailed. They just have to attract wavering Dems and Republicans. In some ways, it's better if they're less specific, so they don't alienate.

Personally, I think the guy's a clown. Politically, I'm much less dismissive of him. He's not going to win, but he's probably going to make an underfunded Chris Bell an unhappy camper.

Posted by: Kevin Whited on June 6, 2006 3:45 PM

Friedman might not be ready for prime time, but was Bush in 94? I'm guessing he could fake it better than Friedman, but he hasn't exactly been a rocket scientist with regards to policy at any level of his executive career and it certainly hasn't hurt his electoral fortunes.

Friedman's still drawing 16% of the vote which is only 2% behind the only Democrat in the race (IIRC). What does that say about the Democratic Party in Texas? You might as well be in Utah.

Posted by: Double B on June 6, 2006 7:44 PM

For God's sake, no, you don't want the initiative and referendum process here in Texas. This is coming from someone who grew up in Oregon and has lived most of his life in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska before moving here. Those are all initiative and referendum states and the radical right with deep pockets have discovered how to use the process more effectively than the left with hired signature gatherers.

Most of the political problems in Oregon right now are due to initiative and referendum. The schools are in MAJOR crisis. The budget is a mess. Land use planning is out out the window. Because it's too dang easy for anti-tax jihadists to get a ballot measure approved to roll back property taxes without actually coming up with any sort of way to replace the money that the schools lose. Imagine what the anti-tax nuts would do in Texas if they could roll back property taxes unilaterally? Schools in some areas would go back to tarpaper shacks with latrines in the back and they still wouldn't be satisfied.

One of my rules of politics is that you don't make the process easier. Because more often than not, the other side will use it to their own ends. Remember when we used to bemoan gridlock in Washington during the Clinton era? Wasn't all that bad in retrospect was it compared to what we have now.

Posted by: Kent on June 6, 2006 8:46 PM

Just for the record, I was the person who conceived of and wrote the original draft for HB 1721 which would end "Primary Screenout" in Texas. (My good friend and Lago Vista City Councilman Pat Dixon came up with the "Primary Screenout" label.) I told the Friedman campaign about the bill after it had already been filed by Todd Baxter and co-authored by Mark Strama.

Read more details about the saga of HB 1721 on my campaign blog at this permanent URL.

Posted by: Rock Howard on June 8, 2006 1:30 PM