Humorist Kinky Friedman considering another bid for office in Texas

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Kinky Friedman doesn’t know whether he’s ready to jump back into Texas politics.

But the cigar-chewing humorist and musician — known for the black attire and cowboy hats he normally dons — said he may soon create an exploratory committee to help him decide whether to run for office again.

And if so, for which one.

“Maybe I should do what Rick Perry does and pray for an answer on what to do,” Friedman, 68, said with a chuckle Tuesday during a telephone interview with the Star-Telegram.

Some political observers say they wouldn’t be surprised to see Friedman run for nearly any statewide office.

“A comedian needs an audience,” said Harvey Kronberg, editor and publisher of the Austin-based Quorum Report, an online political newsletter.

Friedman said he probably will run as a Democrat, as he did during his unsuccessful 2010 bid for Texas agriculture commissioner, rather than as an independent, as he did in his failed 2006 gubernatorial bid.

“I’m keeping my options open,” said Friedman, a self-proclaimed Jewish cowboy who lives in the Hill Country.

Friedman may talk some about politics during a scheduled Saturday night performance at the Queen City Music Hall in Fort Worth with Joe Bill Rose and Charla Corn.

Gambling and marijuana

During past campaigns, Friedman became known everything from his one-liners — “I can’t screw things up any worse than they already are” — to the fact he had a talking action figure doll to help raise funds for his 2006 gubernatorial bid.

On Tuesday, he outlined his top two political priorities if elected: legalizing marijuana use and casino gambling.

“Texas is going to do all this in the next 10 to 15 years,” he said. “But by then, he will be the caboose on the train.”

Making his top two priorities reality, Friedman said, will provide a key boost for Texas’ economy.

Legalizing casinos in Texas would “stop the bleeding from all the billions of dollars that are walking out of the state for gambling,” he said.

And making marijuana use legal in Texas, he said, “would put a real crimp in the Mexican drug cartels — and make Willie Nelson very happy.”

“There is a constituency for both of his issues,” Kronberg said. “Neither one seems as revolutionary or as anti-establishment as they might have seemed 10 years ago.

“Virtually every poll shows voters at least want the right to vote on casino gambling. And there’s a huge untapped group of supporters for marijuana” legalization,” he said. “Maybe he’s on to something.”

Key to victory

Friedman said he was impressed by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, this summer after her lengthy filibuster temporarily killed a comprehensive abortion bill Republicans supported. The measure ultimately passed during a second special session.

“I haven’t met Wendy yet, ... but I’m a big fan of filibusters — the ones that are charismatic,” he said. “And she did a great one.”

Davis, he said, faces a tough decision in the next few months: whether to run for another term representing state Senate District 10 or take advantage of the worldwide attention she has received since her filibuster and seek a higher office.

“She’s a smart cookie,” he said. “There’s a great draft movement for Wendy, but if she runs, this isn’t a great time for Democrats to run for governor, especially since the other candidates have all the money.”

The key to a 2014 victory for any Democrat, he said, is motivating Texas independents to head to the polls and vote.

But some Democrats haven’t forgotten that Friedman picked up nearly 550,000 votes in his independent 2006 gubernatorial bid, which could have gone to Democrat Chris Bell, who lost to Republican Gov. Rick Perry by 406,455 votes.

Friedman said an “old-style Democrat” such as Harry Truman or Dolph Briscoe could win a statewide office — something no one else in the party has been able to do since 1994.

“Democrats have got to think two moves ahead. They need to expand the party,” he said. “There’s a huge number of disgruntled voters.

“Before the state turns blue, it has to go purple. There are a hell of a lot of purple people out there.”

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?