Bud Kennedy

March 13, 2014

Who is Jim Hogan? The Johnson County farmer is this year’s anti-candidate

The Cleburne Democrat surprised everybody but himself by leading the race for agriculture commissioner.

Johnson County farmer Jim Hogan doesn’t really want to be a Democrat or a Republican.

“I just want to be a good agriculture commissioner for Texas,” he said Thursday, facing 10 more weeks of not-really-campaigning before the May 27 Democratic primary runoff against author and comedian Kinky Friedman.

Hogan, 63, is this year’s Texas anti-politician. He doesn’t make speeches and doesn’t want donations, or any of that foolishness.

“All these party people call, and they want to talk about me being a Democrat and whether I’ll campaign for them,” he said.

“That’s exactly what I don’t want anything to do with. I’m not running to be a Democrat. I’m running because some people in Texas want somebody who cares about agriculture.”

Hogan came from nowhere to make the runoff, even losing Johnson County to Friedman.

State Democratic party leaders, if that term still applies, recommended a candidate named Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III.

Look, Texans are never going to vote for anybody named Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III over a Jim Hogan.

Fitzsimons finished third. Frontrunner Hogan and second-place Friedman, both with a murky history of party loyalty, meet in the runoff with the winner facing either Republican Tommy Merritt of Longview or Sid Miller of Stephenville.

Hogan, who raises Angus cattle on about 130 acres, campaigned mostly at small party events. He delivered a press packet to the Star-Telegram, but left it at our Edgecliff Village printing center.

He’s become something of a celebrity longshot, subject of the fondly snarky website whoisjimhogan.com. It includes his explanation to the Texas Observer for not having a website: “All you gotta do is Google my name.”

He grew up on West Mason Street in Fort Worth with parents Elsie and Bill Hogan, a Stockyards cattle trader with a ranch on Silver Creek Road, and graduated from Mansfield High School.

And yes, he said, he’s distantly related to golfer Ben Hogan.

“I’ve got relatives buried with his in the Dublin cemetery,” Jim Hogan said.

The way he sizes up the election, he’s got a chance.

“There’s two choices,” he said.

“You’ve got Kinky, and he don’t even really want this deal. All he wants to do is sell his shirts and books and make a livin’. I told him, ‘You’re a sly ol’ dog.’

“He wants to talk about pot. This job doesn’t have anything to do with pot. I want to talk about hay and cows and tomatoes.”

In the Republican primary, he said, “You got Merritt, and you got — what’s his name? — Miller, he’s a cowboy. The biggest thing that hurts both of them is, they were both in the Legislature so long.”

He added proudly: “I’ve never been in the Legislature.”

Hogan said he admires humorist Will Rogers.

“I’m not a politician, but I am a smart individual,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t need to have a platform because “I’ve got ideas.”

“I think I can do a good job for the farmers and ranchers of Texas,” he said.

“That is, if I can just weed through all the politics.”

And through the weed.

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