In last month’s primary, Democrats were faced with two legitimate candidates representing two legitimate options for the party. There was Hugh Fitzsimons, a longtime rancher and farmer, who had fabulous inside knowledge of everything that is agriculture, and would have valiantly lead the office as a competent and pragmatic technocrat. The problem, of course, is that Fitzsimons was terrible at sheer, ugly politics. Accordingly, enter Kinky Friedman. Despite his best intentions, Friedman is not anyone’s maven on agricultural issues. However, as a famous musician and one-time candidate for Governor, he boasts name recognition and identification superior to Republican counterparts running for this post. Those focusing on politics more than policy, in this board’s opinion, were wise to vote for Friedman in the primary.
Friedman advanced into a runoff election, but Fitzsimons did not. Instead, an insurance salesman from Cleburne named Jim Hogan finished in first place, advancing into a runoff with Friedman while winning nearly a majority of counties across the State. Small counties, like Loving County, and large counties, like Harris County, voted alike for Hogan, a political dark horse with no website, no platform and no competence. In fact, when political reporters contacted Hogan following his upset performance, he openly mocked the political process and promised to do absolutely no campaigning between now and the runoff and, if nominated, before the general election.
Thus, the selection in this runoff should be quite the easy choice; support Friedman because he is a real candidate. Alas, things are never so simple for the Democratic establishment that all-too-often resembles an echo chamber. Because of an increasingly illogical hatred for Friedman, many in the aforementioned establishment have taken to supporting Friedman as a type of sick joke. They like to promulgate the oft-repeated cliche that, despite his history as a comedian, Friedman’s campaign is not funny. On the contrary, we think nominating an incompetent buffoon such as Hogan would be the worst joke of all.
Friedman is not a perfect candidate. Indeed, he has made inflammatory comments that we strongly repudiate in the past. But those comments were 30 years ago, long before any of us were even born, and he has long since apologized time and time again for the offensive remarks made in bad taste.
However, the most common criticism of Friedman has been his previous coziness with the Republican Party. As editorial board member Noah M. Horwitz said in a recent column in The Daily Texan on this issue, “Purity tests stink in general but they are especially rancid when applied arbitrarily and capriciously among candidates.” We strongly agree, especially considering the partisan pasts of countless other candidates on the Democratic slate. Wendy Davis, the nominee for Governor, was a registered Republican as late as 2006. Mike Collier, the nominee for Comptroller, freely admits he voted for Mitt Romney for President in 2012. Kinky has been a Democrat longer than him!
While we agree with Friedman’s campaign to legalize cannabis, it concerns us that he is running on this issue to the detriment of others facing the Agriculture Commissioner’s race. But, considering Sid Miller, his likely Republican opponent, is talking about abortion and automatic weapons, the relevance is comparably ecstatic. He is an imperfect candidate, we admit, but his opponent is perfectly terrible.
Accordingly, we endorse Kinky Friedman in the Democratic primary runoff for Agriculture Commissioner.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, Sophia Arena of Houston, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority of the voting board.