Texpatriate endorses in Agriculture Commissioner Democratic primary

What again does the Agriculture Commissioner do? Last Saturday, we explained somewhat thoroughly that the duties of the office include not only regulation of agriculture and ranching, but broad powers over things as diverse as school lunches to gas pumps. It is a position we are adverse to recommending for a political novice. Unfortunately, three such novices signed up to run in the Democratic primary: Hugh Fitzsimons, Kinky Friedman and Jim Hogan. While Fitzsimons does have experience in the field as both a farmer and a rancher, this office is not a technocratic job–It’s politics. Accordingly, this board believes all the candidates are equally inexperienced and unprepared for the political difficulties that may arise from the post.

While we could not come to a majority decision, we do unanimously recommend a vote against Jim Hogan. While Hogan did sit down for an extended interview with his hometown paper, the Cleburne Times-Review, we could not find any more information about this dark horse candidate. No Facebook, no website, no campaigning. As is our general policy, we are typically weary of such candidates.

Click here to read two minority opinions!

Everyone hates Kinky

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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Existent and non-existent Democrats

Texas Democrats are giddy at the prospect of Wendy Davis running for Governor. The astute will remember that I was very excited when she first announced, but with all due respect, that was nearly two weeks ago. Democrats might do worse than ever before –oh yes, mark my words– in the 2014 elections if something does not change quick.

Most importantly, the Democrats need to find candidates to run for the Statewide offices. As I have said before, even a State that is 80% non-White will not elect a single Democrat if they do not run. Buckpassing is perhaps Texas Democrats biggest problem, as everyone is so satiated with this abstract concept of a future victory that they are unwilling to do anything today. The reason why Wendy Davis’ candidacy is so extraordinary is that she put the good of the party and the State above her immediate political future. Rick Noriega did this in 2008, but it is a rare occurrence otherwise.

Democrats do have a serious candidate for Land Commissioner, John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso. Serious candidates have also been suggested for Lieutenant Governor (State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte) and Attorney General (State Sen. Carlos Uresti) as well. However, the latter two individuals have been painfully silent recently, prompting some concern about the rigor of Democratic candidates.

Click here to read more on other candidates

Kinky Friedman to run for Agriculture Commissioner

The Texas Tribune reports that Kinky Friedman, the satirist and comedian who (in)famously ran for Governor as an independent in 2006, will be running for Agriculture Commissioner this year as a Democrat.

Friedman also ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 2010 as a Democrat, but ultimately lost the primary to Hank Gilbert. Gilbert, of course, was a party loyalist who ran a very honorable campaign. Unfortunately, this honorable campaign received 35% of the vote, a full 7% below Bill White (the top Democratic vote-getter that year). I have always maintained that Friedman could have had a more decent showing, but the party base would surely never stand for it.

The Tribune’s article notes that Friedman, who admits he knows little about Agriculture, wants to focus on what he thinks is a big issue: Marijuana legalization. He wants Texas, much like Colorado or Washington, to legalize, regulate and tax the production and sale of cannabis. In previous comments this year about a possible gubernatorial run, Friedman talked up both marijuana legalization and gambling expansion (the normalization of casinos). It appears that Friedman decided against a gubernatorial run when Wendy Davis threw her pink sneakers into the ring.

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Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

Perry

Adios mofo.

The Texas Tribune, along with the entire Twitterverse, reported the news shortly after 2PM that Rick Perry would not be running for an unprecedented fourth full term in 2014. The news leaves the field wide open, and essentially gifts the post to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Unfortunately, I did not get to livestream the speech. But from what I understand, Perry bragged about both his record as Governor and the so-called “Texas miracle.” He then said something along the lines of “the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership.”

Perry made no comments on his intentions for the 2016 Presidential election. It is worth stating that what finally convinced me that Perry would not run was a tweet by Dan Patrick. I get the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to leak that information this morning.

The gubernatorial election is made much more clear by this announcement. When it comes to the Republican primary, there are three candidates: Greg Abbott, Larry SECEDE Kilgore and Tom Pauken. Kilgore, as you may recall, is the Klansman Theocratic secessionist. Pauken, a former Texas GOP Chairman and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, is a little too reasonable to win a Republican primary.

Attorney General Abbott is the natural selection. This much is somewhat clear. Accordingly, the question shifts to who the Democratic candidates (and eventual nominee) will be.

First and foremost is Wendy Davis. The good Senator, as many may recall, recently reversed her longstanding pledge to not run. She is “open” to the idea, to be exact. Now that Perry is out, we may hear more in the next couple of weeks. Davis only trails Abbott by 8 points in recent polling, which is by far the smallest deficit of any of the possible Democrats mentioned.

The problem with those polls, of course, is who they mention as candidates. Julian Castro and Annise Parker are definitely not running. Bill White is another issue, as many (especially in Austin circles) believe he will run if no other candidate is found.

The other candidates that have been mentioned are State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and State Sen. Kirk Watson. The former two have already specifically taken themselves out of contention. Watson must run for re-election next year, and BOR was really wrong about this exact thing in 2010, so I do not think he is a viable candidate.

That leaves Kinky Friedman. Color me excited. While at one point he might have been the best known Texas Democrat, times have changed. As I stated a few days ago, Wendy Davis, win or lose, needs to run in order to be the “the Texas Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.”

Eye on Williamson and Burnt Orange Report have more.

Combs to not seek re-election

This is big. The Texas Tribune reports that Susan Combs, the strong willed Comptroller long rumored to be eyeing the Lieutenant Governor’s office, will not seek that office nor any other. She is, according to the Tribune, “retiring from public office at the end of her term in 2015.”

Combs may have been the best of a bad bunch seeking the position that may very well have the most power in the State. I remember her highlighted profile in The New York Times, and remember remarking something along the lines of thinking it would be a shame if the Comptroller sold out her principles and then didn’t even seek this high office after all. Well, that’s what ended up happening.

The Tribune article then looks to talk about the possible candidates for Combs’ position. Debra Medina, Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Waller County), Representative Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerr County) and former Representative Raul Torres (R-Nueces County) were all mentioned as possible candidates.

The Chron, in their coverage of this event, included confirmation that Senator Hegar would run for the Comptroller’s position. “I plan to run for Comptroller. It’s an opportunity to talk about the Texas economy and business climate,” Hegar said.

This means, out of the six Statewide offices, at least three (Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner and Comptroller) are open seats. A fourth, Lieutenant Governor, is extremely competitive even though the incumbent is running. The remaining offices are Governor and Attorney General, which means if Abbott challenges Perry, one of those offices becomes competitive and the other becomes open. 2014 will be a hell of a year for statewide elections. Unfortunately, not a single sorry bloke in the Democratic Party, save the Kinkster, has publicly commented about intentions to seek high office next year in the affirmative.

Like I said when Battleground Texas first became a big thing, the Democrats aren’t going to come even close to flipping this State until we start getting some Democrats to sign up for the [expletive deleted] ballot.

Brains & Eggs has more.

Davis to run for re-election

From the Fort Worth Star-Tribune, Wendy Davis WILL NOT be running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor or anything else besides re-election to the State Senate. This had been expected (her Facebook page had something along those lines in January), but now it is pretty final. This  brings up two points. First, about Davis herself, and second, about the Texas Democrats and 2014 in general.

First, Davis will be vulnerable in 2014, and I was one of the many people actively rooting for her to draw the longer straw, and only face election concurrent with a presidential contest. Davis only won by 3% last year, meaning she has very little room for loss in a year unfavorable for Democrats, which 2014 will be if previous midterm elections are any precedent. The upside for a campaign is that she has great name recognition, and is a formidable politician. Also, perhaps people will actually show up to vote in 2014 (unlike 2010), but a man can dream.

Second, the loss of Davis, coming after the loss of Castro, represents the dwindling number of good Democrats to run for statewide offices next year. Kinky Friedman and Mike Villarreal are the only people actually talking about running. Unfortunately for the TDP, there are (I think) 12 other statewide positions that need filling. I’m reminded again of what the San Antonio Express-News said about the Democrats & 2014: “For Texas Democrats, the 2014 gubernatorial race looks much like last season did for the Houston Astros. They know they’re obligated to show up, but they’d just as soon skip ahead a few years until the picture gets a bit rosier.”

Holy cow, he’s actually serious

Last time I wrote about this, I got linked by the TPB round-up, so I better do a job this time.

Anyways, Kinky Friedman is actually really serious about running for Governor. The Statesman is reporting his really serious, a good respite from the joke-cracking Friedman of 2006. Friedman prides himself as the Democrat who could win, calling out the other candidates as ones “only Texas Democrats would vote for,” as well as saying that a candidate such as Mayor Castro would  be “steamrolled” in the general. Ouch.

Friedman would run on two big platform ideas, legalizing gaming and ganja. He said he could be a “transitional candidate” who could “flip the state early.” Friedman also noted, as I did in my first article on this topic, his support for gay marriage a long time ago, back when gay issues could not even find a home in the national Democratic Party.

Finally, he said he will make a final decision at some point between early April and early May. As I have before, I would not hesitate to support him if another legitimate candidate jumped into the mix (even one who would evidently get “steamrolled,” like Julian Castro).

Kinky ’14?

Kinky Friedman, who was the quintessential Texas Jewboy before I was the quintessential Texas Jewboyis 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…