article: 25 Feb 06
By the time you finish reading this you may well ask why some dude from the left coast is writing about politics on the other coast? (That would be Texas, not the East coast.) Simple answer: I'm at least fifth generation Tejano (i.e., Texas gringo) on either side of the family. I lived there for over 13 years. And I've had to suffer through the administrations of LBJ and W (no link, just Google "miserable failure"), not to mention W's carpetbaggin' daddy. (Just because he has a long term lease on a hotel room in Houston doesn't make 41 a Texan.) It pays to keep an eye on any place that produces that much trouble.
Yeah, but why Texas politics? Because this site is about interesting times with the occasional bit of humor thrown in. They have a gubernatorial race coming up in the Lone Star State that will definitely qualify as interesting and should prove even more humorous than usual.
We can safely say that the incumbent, Rick Perry, has done a less than memorable job since inheriting the position when Shrub was transplanted to D.C. The Dallas Morning News reported in an article [registration required] dated Feb. 19, 2006, "When voters were asked Mr. Perry's most important accomplishment as governor, 70 percent couldn't name any, according to the survey." [Disclaimer: I used to work for the Dallas Morning News.]
Lining up against Gov. Perry we have the Democratic candidate, TBD (either former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage or store manager Rashad Jafer), and two hopeful independents, State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and singer and novelist Kinky Friedman (of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys).
Call the two independents hopeful because they will probably make the race, but may not. To qualify each of them has 60 days from the primary to gather over 45,000 notarized signatures from registered voters who did not vote in the primary. This brilliant piece of democracy in action comes from that same august body that brought you the Great Texas Redistricting Fiasco. That's right. We're talking about Molly Ivins' favorite source of material and bemusement, "The Lege" (i.e., the Texas State Legislature).
Normally a guy like Kinky Friedman wouldn't even get a second glance in a race for Governor. But remember, these are interesting times. Conservative Strayhorn arguably has more ties to the White House than Perry, and could end up splitting the Republican vote with him. And, although possibly on the road to recovery from damage done by Karl Rove and Tom Delay, the Democratic Party in Texas still appears anemic enough that its candidate could finish fourth in this race.
What makes this whole scenario a lot more interesting is that the Friedman campaign has hired Dean Barkley, the brains behind "The Body" (i.e., Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura). Throw in the fact that Friedman wrote a regular (using the word only as it applies to intervals of time) column in The Texas Monthly for years, along with his humor laced campaign (e.g., T-shirts with the slogan "NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND"), and you can't discount him completely.
So, after Minnesotans elected Jesse, The Body, and Californians elected Arnold the body builder, could it be that Texans will decide that when you've got a perverse legislature you need a Kinky governor? Kinky would probably respond with the opening line of his Manifesto, "Why the hell not?"