The Houston Press wrote a five page cover story on the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate everyone loves to hate, Kinky Friedman. A former independent candidate for Governor, Kinky Friedman garnered 12% of the vote in a year (2006) when the Democratic candidate lost to Rick Perry by less than 10%. Ever since, Democrats have unfairly bullied and criticized the man at every turn. Never mind that this irrational animosity ignores the fact that a huge chunk of Friedman’s supporters came from people who would have supported either Perry or the other independent in the race if he had not run.
Four years later, in 2010, he ran for Agriculture Commissioner, but as a Democrat this time. The Democrats were not quick to forgive, and he was later decisively defeated in the primary by Hank Gilbert. While I believe Gilbert was ultimately better qualified to serve, he was absolutely shellacked by the Republican in the general election because he offered nothing to stand out from the crowd. Kinky Friedman does stand out from the crowd.
Now he is running for the same post a second time, and he is running with a very interesting niche issue: pot legalization. Now, one may think that the legalization of cannabis is a dangerously extreme position to take in Texas, but this simply is not true. 58% of Texans support full legalization, the same percentage as medicinal legalization.
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Kinky Friedman, who was the quintessential Texas Jewboy before I was the quintessential Texas Jewboy, is thinking about yet another run for Governor. Third time’s a charm. Now, I supported Kinky in ’06, and before Bill White entered the fray in 2010, I temporarily supported Friedman. I suppose that, if no one else except a few soft Republicans enter the Democratic primary, I could see myself supporting Kinky Friedman yet again.
Now, now, I know what people say about him. “He’s a racist. He’s a misogynist. He’s homophobic,” yada yada yada. For the record, Friedman supported gay marriage in 2005, back when the Democratic Party was still nominating homophobic bigots for major office. Further, people need to realize that Kinky Friedman is a comedian by trade, who sometimes used shock humor in the past. Of course he said some horrible things in the past, and they were wrong, but I have always maintained that actions speak louder than words, and Friedman’s actions are indicative of a strong Democratic candidate. If you want a candidate who genuinely supports gay rights, and not just because it is popular right now, if you want a candidate who will take a strong stance against the death penalty, and if you want a candidate who is unequivocally supportive of the legislation of cannabis, then Friedman might be your guy.
My Democratic intelligentsia friends will lambaste me over how “Kinky Friedman isn’t a candidate who can win,” but is any Democrat in 2014? I’m sorry to say, but the answer is simply no. At least a nominee of Friedman would finally put Texas Democrats on the map. Say what you want, Texas Democrats could do a lot worse…