Texas: Kinky Friedman on the Campaign Trail

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Texas: Kinky Friedman on the Campaign Trail

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

AP via The Houston Chronicle - Jul 29, 2006
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/politics/4081461.html

Friedman rallies supporters at beer garden stop

Associated Press

Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman mixed gladhanding,
wisecracks and suds Saturday at a sweaty informal meet-and-greet session
with supporters at a Houston beer garden.

"You know I have no political experience whatsoever," the 61-year-old
entertainer and author-turned-candidate told a small but appreciative crowd
packed in the cramped bar area of Hans' Village Bier and Vino Haus. "I'm
too young for Medicare and too old for women to care."

Friedman, who has recorded 10 albums, authored 26 books and has never held
public office, is vying with independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn,
Democrat Chris Bell and Libertarian James Werner to oust Republican Gov.
Rick Perry in the Nov. 7 election. He threw out a few challenges to his
opponents, but mostly appeared to tell a few jokes, rally volunteers and
sign a few hats and books.

"I'll sign anything but bad legislation," he quipped.

The last independent candidate elected Texas governor was Sam Houston in
1859.

"This is the best people watch we've had in years," said Seneca Huckaby,
46, a training designer for technical operations at an oil services company
who braved stifling 91-degree heat to get a glimpse.

Asked if she was a Friedman fan, Huckaby demurred, saying she was a
political fan.

"When I heard he was throwing his name in the hat, I was like, 'This is
going to be good,'" she said of the gubernatorial race.

A critic of the state lottery's record in funding education, Friedman said
Texas should embrace casino gambling to funnel billions into classrooms
while cutting property taxes.

After all, Texans do gamble, he said.

"I just returned from a fact-finding trip to Las Vegas. The main thing I
learned is that half the people there are from Texas," he said.

Last month, Friedman and Strayhorn learned they had collected enough
signatures to make the November election ballot. The signatures had to be
from registered Texas voters who did not cast ballots in the Republican or
Democratic primaries this spring.

"The train is off the track, folks. The train is in the ditch," Friedman
said. "Nov. 7 we're going to get that train back on track."

***


Waxahachie Daily Light - Jul 31, 2006
http://www.waxahachiedailylight.com/articles/2006/07/31/dailylight/news/03-07-31-kinky2.txt

On the trail with Kinky

By JOANN LIVINGSTON
Daily Light Managing Editor

ROUND ROCK - Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman continues
to take his message - both the humorous and serious sides - across the
state and to a variety of audiences.

The author, entertainer and former Texas Monthly columnist was a featured
speaker during the recent sixth annual Equity Center and Schwartz &
Eichelbaum, P.C., Seminar on School Finance and Legal Issues in Round Rock.
Friedman was the only gubernatorial candidate invited to speak at the
conference.

Wearing his trademark all-black attire and holding one of his signature
cigars, the 61-year-old Friedman described himself to the almost 200
superintendents and other administrative officials in attendance as "a
compassionate redneck."

"I'm too young for Medicare and too old for women to care," he said,
drawing the first of many laughs from the crowd. He pointed out he's a
newcomer to the political scene, unlike three of his opponents - incumbent
Gov. Rick Perry, independent Carole Strayhorn and Democrat Chris Bell - who
he described as "three little people with 88 years of political life"
between themselves.

"That's not how our founding fathers would have wanted it," said Freidman,
who presents his newness to politics - and sense of humor - as strengths
that allow him to see matters with an outsider's objectivity and ideas.

"Frankly, I think we need to have a little more fun in politics, and get
the politicians out of politics," he said, saying the other candidates
seemed to have "humor bypasses."

"I think Texas is ready for a non-politician," he said. "Your accidental
candidates are often the good ones."

Vision for the state

Interspersing ideas and plans with his humor, Friedman talked about his
vision for the state if elected governor. He said he intends to put Texas
singer Willie Nelson, who has been opening bio-diesel facilities in the
state, in charge of energy issues. Friedman said he's also receiving
support from singer Jimmy Buffet, who although a Florida resident, has
expressed interest in helping him with his campaign.

Musicians may not be the first to get up in the morning, "but we're honest
and we'll work late into the night," he said.

Texas needs to be No. 1 again in areas that count, such as education and
health care, Friedman said.

"While the governor (Perry) has zealously been banning gay marriage - and
I'm sure that's affected all of you - we've dropped to 50th in education,"
Friedman said, "and now, Guam and Samoa are sneaking up on us.

"I would so love to be No. 1 in something besides executions, toll roads
and property taxes," he said.

As a way to bring new revenues in, Friedman said he'll push for the
legalization of gambling, saying it's foolish economy-wise to allow other
states - such as Oklahoma and Louisiana - to build their economies on Texas
dollars.

He criticized the state lottery, saying, "What has six balls and screws
Texas? The lottery. This is no little secret, we all know this."

The state of Georgia provides college education benefits for children with
its state lottery, he said. "In Texas, what have we got? Every time a bell
rings, another lobbyist gets his wings."

As governor, Friedman said he would not meet with lobbyists - the same
stance he said taken by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura when he was in
office.

"I cannot be bought," he said.

Acknowledging he doesn't have a lot of answers nor has he taken a stand on
every issue at this point, Friedman said that one stand he has taken is to
see prayer allowed back into the schools.

"A spiritual climate is very important in our schools," he said, adding,
"May the god of your choice bless you."

Mixing humor and seriousness, Friedman drew yet another laugh when he
added, "Education is, I think, the noblest profession of all ... (pause)
although it's not the oldest."

Recent moves by Perry have resulted in "a crumb" being thrown at public
education, Freidman said, saying that the legalization of gambling in Texas
would bring in from $6 to $8 billion a year as a permanent revenue stream,
money that now flows out of Texas to five other states.

"There's a far religious right and a far left (movement), and these people
are holding back the great state of Texas," he said.

Friedman also supports the privatization of student athletics, saying this
would allow more corporate sponsorship and outside funding of those
programs, which in turn would free up additional dollars for academics. He
also supports a surcharge on "big oil."

Involving more people

To involve more people in public education, Friedman has plans for a Texas
Peace Corps that would bring people with "wisdom and love to give" into the
schools to share their life's work in such areas as art and music as well
as their experiences.

Under the current system, though, that wouldn't be feasible, he said,
saying, "If you did that today, though, you'd be in a heap of trouble,
because it's not on the test."

Friedman said that with the exception of Perry, all of the gubernatorial
candidates want to see the TAKS test "go."

"Who wants to be a Stepford wife teaching the same crap?" he said,
describing the flight of teachers from public education as a tragedy. "We
need to get rid of this overpowering concept that gives everybody a nervous
breakdown and doesn't generate revenue.

"It seems clear to me (that the current political climate) wouldn't mind if
public schools cratered in Texas," he said. "We're the first in dropouts
and the last in kids getting into college."

With more than 3,000 appointments to be made by a governor, Friedman said
he and his staff would focus on putting "the brightest and the best" people
into positions such as the commissioner of education.

"My plan is to appoint the very best people that I can find and get out of
their way and let them do their job. I want people who have a passion about
Texas and who care about her and who will do the right thing," he said.

"It's a plan that's never been tried here before."

Friedman, who has described the Republican and Democratic parties as the
Crips and Bloods of politics, is trying to become the first independent
candidate since Sam Houston in 1859 to become governor.

"I'm a conservative," he said, saying Austin is out of touch with the
populace and that his recommendation is to never re-elect anyone. "I
believe in limited, efficient government - and that's the opposite we're
getting from the Republican Party. ... It's time for a change and a
fundamental change."

A key focus for Friedman during his campaign is to change voter apathy at
the polls. Criticizing Perry for driving 71 percent of the voters away
during the last gubernatorial election, Friedman said he's reaching out to
people in a grass roots campaign that is seeing him travel the main roads
and back roads of Texas. He's also involving young people, he said, saying,
"I think young people can run Texas and I think we should let them."

One-on-one

Thriving on one-on-one contact, Friedman spends as much time as possible at
every stop, signing autographs and T-shirts, taking photographs and
visiting with people.

"I'll sign anything except bad legislation," he told the Equity Center's
conference crowd.

More than an hour later, he was still signing and visiting as he worked his
way through the long line of people, listening to their concerns and
answering questions. Many of those also met with his longtime sidekick and
campaign organizer, Little Jewford, to schedule a Friedman appearance in
their area.

"This is about Kinky Friedman against apathy," Friedman said. "I want
prayer in schools and politicians out of politics. It's a dual message, and
if we add into that clean energy and clean government, I think we can reach
our stars.

"I think the train of Texas is in a ditch, and I don't think the people
presiding over her can put her right. They can't put her right," he said.
"All of the passengers on that train are the residents of Texas and, come
Nov. 7, those residents are going to put her right again."

Copyright © 2006 Alvarado Post, Bonham Journal, Ellis County Chronicle,
Ennis Journal, Midlothian Mirror, The Daily Light, Homes Magazine,
WAXAHACHIE The Magazine


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