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One unknown grandma

Since we’re in a musical frame of mind today, I think we’ll all agree that the song that accompanies this article is the classic Who Are You?.

Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn won political office under her two previous married names, but in this year’s race for governor, voters apparently are saying: Strayhorn who?

Strayhorn told supporters in an e-mail this week that is why she wants to solve her name identification problem by appearing on the November ballot as “Grandma” Strayhorn. She has campaigned as “One Tough Grandma” since 1998.

Born Carole Keeton, she won the Austin mayor’s office as Carole McClellan. She won statewide elections for railroad commissioner and state comptroller as Carole Keeton Rylander.

But she has remarried since her last election in 1992, exchanging vows with Eddie Strayhorn and picking up a new last name in the process.

“The name change from Rylander to Strayhorn has not completely sunk in with voters (She has never run as Strayhorn),” said the fundraising e-mail.

Strayhorn has six granddaughters. “Once voters are told that Strayhorn is ‘One Tough Grandma,’ she jumps 10 points in every poll we have taken, and (Gov. Rick) Perry drops,” the e-mail said. “No public poll has tested her nickname ‘Grandma,’ only Strayhorn.”

The e-mail says that is why she will appear on the November ballot as Carole Keeton “Grandma” Strayhorn.

And that is how she filled out her application for a spot on the ballot, said Scott Haywood, spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.

Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps Lynryd Skynyrd’s What’s Your Name? is a better fit. Decisions, decisions.

Haywood said Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams will not rule on nicknames on the ballot until the petition-counting process is complete in about two weeks.

State law allows the use of a nickname on the ballot if it is a name by which the candidate has been “commonly known for at least three years preceding the election.”

“The law doesn’t allow you to use a political slogan. So we weren’t going to try that,” said Strayhorn’s campaign manager and son, Brad McClellan. “More people know her as ‘grandma’ than Strayhorn.”

A small correction before I begin: Strayhorn’s last election as Carole Keeton Rylander was in 2002, not 1992. She’s been known as Carole Keeton Strayhorn since January of 2003.

Let me be blunt here: The proper name for all this is “baloney”. If Strayhorn has name recognition issues, that’s not my problem. She’s got a multi-million dollar campaign budget and five months to work it out herself. If she wants to call herself Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn on the ballot – or hell, Carole Keeton McClellan Rylander Strayhorn – I can live with that. But you can’t separate the nickname from the campaign slogan, and as such I believe it’s inappropriate for the ballot. To my way of thinking, if you’re not associated with a given name outside of and/or prior to your candidacy, as Richard “Kinky” Friedman can claim to be, then it’s not a real nickname. Sorry.

UPDATE: Now this I could support.

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2 Comments

  1. ellen says:

    Another song suggestion:

    My name is WHAT?

  2. […] Strayhorn was much worse. It’s hard to imagine them doing anything as cringe-worthy as the Put-“Grandma”-on-the-ballot debacle, for instance, if only because that was in a league by […]