Texpatriate reports that Chris Bell, a former Congressman and the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2006, has endorsed Kinky Friedman’s bid for Agirculture Commissioner. Longtime followers of politics will see the significance in this, as Friedman got his start running as an independent in that same year’s election. Many ill-informed Democrats blame him for Bell’s defeat in the four way contest, wherein Rick Perry was re-elected to the second full-term with a plurality victory of 39%.
Friedman, after his unsuccessful bid for Governor, ran once before for Agriculture Commissioner, always in the Democratic primary. In 2010, in a two-way race, he was soundly defeated by Hank Gilbert. This year, he faced both Hugh Fitzsimons and Jim Hogan in the primary. Fitzsimons, an actual rancher, was the unanimous choice of the elite establishment; he came in dead last and carried one county out of 254. Friedman advanced into a runoff, but so did Hogan, who has no website, no campaign and no respect for the office. Accordingly, it was stupid, to say the least, when I heard of many in this town talking of supporting Hogan over Friedman. Reasonable people, those guided by facts –and not ideology, dogma or revenge– would surely support the actual candidate in this race, as the editorial board of this publication did last week.
Make no mistake, if Bell can bury the hatchet, you should too. Friedman’s campaign has been very focused on serious thus far. No matter how much his detractors may claim to the contrary, he provides real and concise issue positions on the serious questions regarding water and the like. Most importantly, he is a big proponent for an issue I definitely support: cannabis legalization. Yeah yeah yeah, I know that the Agriculture Commissioner cannot introduce legislation or unilaterally affect that issue. Of course, the Comptroller cannot cut taxes and the Lieutenant Governor cannot change the 2/3rds rule, but since when have hardcore partisans cared about reason?
Bell had a point on a recent tweet that deserves recollection. “The DGA chair’s comment about Wendy is exactly the sort of thing Dems must stop. We can’t keep killing our own.” Indeed, it seems like the Democrats would be much more comfortable squirming among themselves than fighting the good fight. Admittedly, this mindset is far more common in Austin than in Houston. I would reckon it comes with the territory in any sort of jurisdiction where the Democratic primary is tantamount to election. Since there really is no general election in Travis County, I suppose it made sense to have these absolute bloodbaths in the primary. But carrying that mindset into Statewide attitudes does no one any favors. Knock it off, pretty please.