September 22, 2006
Another bad news cycle for Kinky

Another find by BOR, another day Kinky Friedman has to spend saying he's not a racist. All in all, a pretty bad news cycle for Friedman. Even Chron cartoonist Nick Anderson has piled on.

Couple points to make here. One, as I've alluded to before, this is basically the flipside of all the gushing, fawning, Celebrity Candidate feature stories Friedman has benefitted from over and over again since he first announced his intention to run in 2003. Friedman has continually pleaded to be treated as a real, serious candidate, and he's getting exactly what he asked for. His candidacy has been all about his personality, and now that personality is being given the thorough examination that any serious candidate who makes a priority issue out of a given topic should expect.

Two, while the BOR boys have had a field day trawling through Friedman's remarks and routines from the past, what really got this ball rolling was his "crackheads and thugs" comment about Katrina evacuees (and to a lesser extent his statements about the border.) What might have been cute and overlookable by a non-serious candidate is now real news. Comedians who say whatever outrageous thing that pops into their heads are considered funny. Governors who do that are considered embarrassments. That's why Friedman is getting this level of scrutiny, and that's why we won't someday eulogize Clayton Williams as a "former Texas governor".

Again, will this matter? Friedman has a pretty powerful reality-distortion field around him, and I expect that many people who were drawn to him as a "why the hell not" candidate will be able to sufficiently bend their minds so as to accept that he's really the victim here. But I've seen enough anecdotal evidence to make me think that this will cost him among nominal Democrats. According to SurveyUSA, Friedman pulled 13% support among blacks and 20% support among Hispanics in their recent poll. I'll be shocked if those numbers don't shrivel up, and for Chris Bell to benefit as a result.

While Bud Kennedy thinks (and to an extent I agree) that Bell has benefitted mostly by being in the background and not having said or done anything stupid, I definitely still think he needs some money to get some positive, name-ID-boosting ads on TV for a couple of weeks. I see from this NYT piece that some traditional Texas Democratic money people are finally coming around on this as well:

In recent days, the cash-starved and long-invisible Mr. Bell has been buoyed by the unexpected opening of checkbooks, as some big donors have reconsidered their judgment that he could not beat Mr. Perry. One new benefactor was Frederick M. Baron of Dallas, a wealthy asbestos lawyer and former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, who spent several hours recently closeted with Mr. Bell, calling Democrats for donations. ā€œIā€™m now convinced he could win,ā€ Mr. Baron said.

Hallelujah. I could gripe about what took them so long, but I've beaten that horse to a pulp already. Let's just say "Welcome to the table" and move on.

One last thing. While I do think Friedman's level of support from traditional Democratic groups will drop, that doesn't mean I think he'll pull a Strayhorn and totally fall off the map. However repugnant he may be looking to progressives now, he's got to be looking better to some other voters. Take a look at this find by Texas Kaos and you'll see what I mean. Remember: Friedman got 26% Anglo support in that SUSA poll. Only Rick Perry did better. You do the math.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 22, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

It worked for w.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on September 22, 2006 10:41 AM

Kinky and Claytie. Nice. Let's hope more voters start making that association.

Posted by: Jeb on September 22, 2006 10:51 AM

As to Kinky, anyone who veers even remotely out of the easily-definable box in American politics will suffer from a branding image -- doesn't matter left or right, Democrat or Republican. If the candidate doesn't present at least a tinge of familiarity, the voter will simply slide off.

Posted by: Elliot Essman on September 23, 2006 6:10 AM

Y'all keep trying to understand and explain Kinky using your traditional concepts of how politics should work. I'm voting for Chris Bell, but I understand that Kinky is aiming his message not at the people like us who care about politics, but at those who viscerally hate politics and politicians and who normally don't vote. If he can get half of the traditional no-shows to vote - if for no other reason than to say that they are pissed off at the whole bunch of us - he's probably our next Guv. All of the reasons we have for being critical of Kinky are the very reasons he will get votes from those who have to ask where their polling place is located.

Posted by: Dennis on September 23, 2006 12:05 PM