Kinky for Ag Commish, Sam Houston (maybe) for AG

One and a half candidate announcements to note from the weekend. First, from the Trib, is the quadrennial appearance of Kinky Friedman.

Bi-polar and tri-partisan

Singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist and former Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman will run for the Democratic nomination to be the state’s next agriculture commissioner.

A formal announcement is expected on Monday.

This will not be Friedman’s first bid for statewide office. In addition to running for governor as an Independent in 2006, he ran unsuccessfully for agriculture commissioner in the Democratic primary in 2010. He expects this cycle to be different, in part because of the excitement surrounding state Sen. Wendy Davis at the top of the Democratic ticket.

“The better Wendy does, the better we will do,” he said. “And we will also be able to bring a lot of Independent voters and people who have never voted before.”

Though no Democrat has won statewide office in nearly two decades, Friedman predicted that this cycle could be “very winnable” — if the party can attract non-traditional voters.

Friedman, who describes himself as “an old time Harry Truman Democrat,” had been mulling a gubernatorial bid. He previously expressed interest in promoting the legalization of marijuana and casino gambling in Texas. On Saturday, he said that the two issues would remain a part of his platform as a candidate for ag commissioner, especially the idea that the state should “legalize, cultivate, tax and regulate marijuana.”

“It could be an economic engine for the state, enabling us to do whatever we want to do,” he said.

Ag Commish isn’t one of the offices I suggedted Kinky run for when he popped up again like one of those inflatable clown dolls, but what the hell. At least it’s an office for which Dems didn’t currently have a candidate. PDiddie makes the case for Kinky based on the issues he wants to emphasize, while BOR reminds us of the reasons to be skeptical. For now, I see this as PDiddie does, a low-cost gamble with some upside. Friedman doesn’t help diversify the ticket, and we’ll all hold our breath every time he’s in the vicinity of a microphone, but if he can stay focused on the issues he says he cares about, it’ll be all right. I hope. Texpatriate has more.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star Project brings news of a possible announcement.

Sam Houston Likely to Announce for Texas AG
Respected Texas attorney was a top vote getter in 2008

As expected, Senator Wendy Davis’ announcement that she is running for Texas Governor is encouraging other strong, qualified Democrats to run statewide. The Lone Star Project has learned that highly respected Houston attorney, Sam Houston, will likely soon announce his candidacy for Texas Attorney General.

Sam Houston’s background is law, not politics
Apart from having about the best ballot name any Texan might imagine, Sam Houston is a respected, highly competent attorney with deep roots in Texas. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, Sam would enter the AG’s office with more than twice the experience as a practicing attorney than Greg Abbott when he became Attorney General. Unlike Abbott and John Cornyn, who were political appointees and professional Republicans before becoming AG, Sam Houston would bring practical experience advocating for clients in the court room.

Sam was born and raised in Colorado City in west Texas (about halfway between Abilene and Midland). His Dad owned a small auto supply/hardware store where Sam often worked. He went on to get his college degree at UT and then earned his law degree at Baylor. Sam lives in Houston with his wife, Jantha and their two children.

Abbott, as Texas AG, has been the counsel to cronies
As Texas AG for over a decade, Greg Abbott has turned the office into a legal advocacy organization for partisan politics and doling out special favors to political friends and donors.  Recently, the Lone Star Project detailed how Abbott looked the other way while some of his top donors bilked the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) of millions of dollars in tax funded grant awards.  This follows a long history of Abbott taking the side of special interests over Texas citizens.

A top vote getter in 2008
Sam was a Democratic nominee for the Texas State Supreme Court in 2008.  Despite the fact that virtually all resources for statewide candidates were diverted for local candidates and out-of-state national races, Sam received over 3.5 million votes – more than any other Texas Democratic candidate on the ballot in 2008.

It’s not official, but…
Don’t be surprised if Sam Houston files to run for the Democratic nomination to become Texas Attorney General.

It may not be official, but it seems highly unlikely that Matt Angle et al would risk making a fool of himself like this if it were anything but a matter of timing or paperwork at this point. Sens. Carlos Uresti and Jose Rodriguez have also been mentioned as possibilities, and I suppose either or both could still jump in; they’re not otherwise on the ballot till 2016, so it’s a free shot. I think Sam Houston would be a strong candidate – he’s well-qualified, unlike many other people running on both sides he has statewide candidate experience, he can probably raise a few bucks, and I do think being named “Sam Houston” is likely to be beneficial to him – so I’ll be happy if this possibility turns into a sure thing.

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