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Coming back to Bell

Via BOR, a letter from a former Friedman supporter to his erstwhile candidate’s camp on why he pushed the button for Chris Bell.

He had my vote until his abysmal performance in the debate. He articulated no policy and no numbers and no plan, other than testy sound bites. And he capped it that night with his asinine statement about the Internet being the “work of Satan.” Well in one sense, it is – from your perspective. Your fervent net.supporters feel betrayed, and are turning away from your foolishness in droves.

Now I see that he voted at the Kerrville court house – for Lamar Smith and Kay Bailey Hutchinson. And then he went outside and said, and I quote, “It was a time for change. I’m very excited.”

Change?? Holy Mother of God.

Listen folks, I was a true believer. I’ve played benefits for Kinky. I knew about the campaign months before it was publicly announced. I (among others) suggested him for the keynote addresses at more than one music festival. I’ve blogged about him. I talked him up. I made phone calls on his behalf. I “saved myself” for the campaign and signed the petition.

He had two years to get his act together and study the issues and formulate policy. He didn’t. And he does not deserve my vote.


If the Kinky campaign wants to make a difference and be more than a laughingstock, it can pull out of the race now and endorse Chris Bell — and the then-former candidate can spend the last two weeks of the season campaigning his ass off for Chris Bell.

There are times when I would have said something sarcastic about how long it takes some folks to realize certain things, but this isn’t one of those times. Getting it is what matters, and this guy clearly does. Read the whole thing, he does a better job of dismantling most of Friedman’s arguments than any hostage of the “two party system” such as myself ever could.

And truthfully, it’s not so much the regular voter types among those who could or should be supporting Bell that bother me. Candidates matter, and if you can say that Friedman or Strayhorn speak to you in a way that no one else in the race does, well, that’s democracy. However much I may disagree with or despair at that choice, I can respect it. What I’ll never respect is the mentality of surrender that has so thoroughly permeated the so-called movers and shakers within the Democratic Party for their abandonment of Bell from the get go. SMU poli sci prof Cal Jillson sums it up in this excellent AusChron piece on Bell.

Is it too late for Bell to narrow the distance to catch Perry? Even with things looking up for Bell, the odds still heavily favor Perry, says Cal Jillson, a political-science professor at Southern Methodist University. The problem for Bell, he said, is the crowded field. “All three of them [Bell, Strayhorn, and Friedman] know that if each of them takes 15 to 20 percent of the vote, they’re all going to lose by 15 to 20 points. The question is whether anybody is going to fade fast or drop out,” he said, suggesting that Strayhorn and Friedman would be the likely fade-outs. “That leaves Bell, whom people wrote off for most of the race.” Still, Jillson believes that despite the campaign’s recent momentum, the window of time is too short for Bell to close the gap. “After the debate, a lot of Democrats were saying, ‘You know this guy isn’t as pitiful as we thought, so maybe we ought to get behind him,'” Jillson said. “But I think it’s going to be too little too late.”

Jillson lays the blame squarely on Bell’s party. “You just want to look at these guys who are supposed to be the brains of the Democratic Party in Texas and say, ‘What were you guys thinking when you abandoned your own nominee to get behind a Republican who’s now an independent? How did you think this is going to work?’ So now, late in the game, they’re coming back to their nominee.”

Had Bell the financial means to get his message out earlier, voters would already be familiar with him. Instead, the refrain from voters for most of the year has been, “Who is Chris Bell?” Said Jillson: “He was always a name that sort of mystified people, and they didn’t know enough about him to form an opinion. And when that’s the case, the opinion can’t be positive.”

Yeah. What has Bell lacked all through this campaign? Not experience, not a message, not a plan to win, not anything to make a like- or open-minded voter reject him. Just one thing: the money to get his message out. It’s no surprise that his support in the polls has risen, surely in tandem with his name recognition, as the money has finally rolled in. People like what they see when they see him. He just hasn’t had the resources to give enough of them the opportunity to let them see him. There’s no justifiable reason for that, and every single check that every high-dollar Democratic supporter handed to Strayhorn will serve as a shameful lesson in self-marginalization.

One more thing, for Paul Burka’s benefit. Here’s Burka’s words of wisdom:

Can he beat Rick Perry? I think the answer is no. There is a difference between Rick Perry’s being beatable, which any candidate with just 34% of the vote surely is, and actually figuring out a way to beat him. Bell needs just over half of the anti-Perry vote to win. There are three ways for him to get it:

(1) Take votes away from Perry. Forget it. Republicans will not vote for Democrats (although the reverse is not true).

Oh, really?

Since the debate, Bell’s blog (, which had languished in cyberspace for most of the year, has been running at full throttle. He’s even won over a good many Republicans. In one e-mail to Bell, Ray Hunt, a Houston police officer who had served on then Gov. Bush’s law enforcement commission, wrote that he had planned to vote with his union’s endorsement of Perry – until he watched the debate. “I am a life long Republican and have never voted for a Democrat in a state wide election,” he wrote, “but I AM VOTING FOR YOU FOR GOVERNOR!” He concluded with an offer to assist Bell in the campaign and says it will be the first time he’s ever voted for a Democratic statewide candidate.

“There’ve been a lot of e-mails like that,” Bell said, as he scrolled his Blackberry for more Republican converts. I’ve always felt that Rick Perry was vulnerable, and that was my original inspiration for running.”

Take that!

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  1. kevin whited says:

    He’s even won over a good many Republicans.

    Right! That promise to boost taxes just warms Republican hearts statewide! 🙂

    I rather doubt that self-serving anecdotes from Chris Bell or blogs that blockquote them are going to change Paul Burka’s (excellent political) mind on the subject.

  2. Self-serving anecdotes? What, a quote from the guy’s email wasn’t good enough for you? Why don’t you do what you always tell everyone else to do and make a phone call to find out for yourself what the story is?

    I’m sure Paul Burka is capable of changing his excellent mind when evidence contradicts his opinion. How about you?

  3. Thanks for the link to my now-[in]famous blog post, and thanks for the kind comments.

    Just as a clarification, I supported Kinky eyes-open as what I saw to be the best vehicle for getting rid of Perry. It never was a cult of personality thing with me; those folks are going to be the hardest to peel away.

    And, concurrently, I think that Kinky’s vote last Tuesday is the way to get ’em. Bell should simultaneously put up a soft-glove “For Kinky Supporters” section on his web site — and hammer the Hutchinson/Smith vote hard everywhere he might be heard by Kinky supporters.

    I am not very optimistic, but maybe we can pull this thing out…


  4. […] years trashing the two-party system, I’m a lifelong Democrat. Oh, and please also overlook my votes for Lamar Smith and Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2006 as well. Hey, at least I voted that year, which is something I almost never did before […]