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.
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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.
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In a recent Daily Texan column, I bemoaned the “race to the right” that had emerged as a general Republican strategy and lamented the fact that ugly purity tests of “true republicanism” had become so common in the state’s primary contests. Unfortunately, we’re now seeing the same tactics on the other side of the aisle in the primary contest for the Agriculture Commissioner Democratic nominee.
That primary is dominated by Richard “Kinky” Friedman, a former musician — known for performing such gems as “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” — turned politician. He ran for Governor as an independent in 2006, finishing in fourth place in the contest where Rick Perry was re-elected with a slim 39 percent plurality. Because of Friedman’s past — not to mention a few off-color comments he has made — this has stilled an unshakeable suspicion among many of the Democratic top brass.
“It’s impossible for me to view Friedman as a serious candidate,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic strategist and lobbyist. “In fact, given that he’s run as a Republican, an independent and a Democrat, it’s impossible for me to view him as anything other than a rank opportunist.”
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If your first question is “Who is Jim Hogan?,” then don’t worry, there is a website set up to address your concerns. Hogan is a rancher out of Cleburne (Johnson County), who despite not campaigning in the slightest finished first in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner and advanced into a runoff with Kinky Friedman.
Despite being the establishment candidate supported by the top brass of the Texas Democratic Party and Leticia Van de Putte, Hugh Fitzsimons finished in dead last in the primary. In fact, of Texas’ 254 counties, he only won a plurality in a single one (Dallas County, for what it is worth). Accordingly, purist Democrats are slowly going bonkers having to choose in between a no-name and someone who the Austin elite bears a pathological hatred towards. That being said, I encourage you to read the one liners from both Friedman and Hogan. As many may recall, Texpatriate could not agree on an endorsement in the preliminary primary, we split our ticket with both Fitzsimons and Friedman.
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Just to sum up the results for those of y’all who have not been paying much attention to things, I will recap some of the big things that have happened. First, the expected winners were, by and large, the winners on Tuesday night in Statewide elections. Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis won their respective bids for Governor, John Cornyn easily beat back challengers for another nomination to the Senate, George P. Bush got the GOP nod for Land Commissioner and Stephen Brown got the Democrat nod for Railroad Commissioner. All three incumbent Supreme Court Justices who saw right-wing primary opponent were able to easily prevail.
In a few other races, the expected result happened, but in a very different manner. This was largely due to the fact that the Texas Tribune poll released about a week ago was total garbage. It was not worth the fictional paper it wasn’t printed on, to quote a friend. In these races, David Alameel and Kesha Rogers indeed will proceed into a runoff for the US Senate Democrat primary, as will David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick for the Lieutenant Governor Republican primary. However, the Tribune poll seriously miscalculated who would come in first and by how much. Instead of Rogers holding a commanding plurality lead, she hovered near 20% while Alameel was just a few perilous points so close to winning outright. Instead of the preconceived notion that Dewhurst would receive 40-something percent compared to Patrick’s 20-something, the roles were reversed.
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