June 3, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: Galveston Daily News: Kinky Friedman speaks with isle Pachyderms

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Kinky Friedman speaks with isle Pachyderms

Kinky Friedman speaks with isle Pachyderms

Kinky Friedman speaks with isle Pachyderms

Friedman speaks with isle Pachyderms
By Nathan Smith
The Daily News

Published June 3, 2005
GALVESTON — Richard “Kinky” Friedman is a difficult man to miss. Outfitted in his trademark black cowboy hat and enormous cigar, he probably, typically is the man in the room surrounded by the largest crowd.

In addition to his wide-brim, Friedman wears many hats. As a musician, mystery author, magazine columnist and salsa-maker, he has long been known as the sort of colorful character that only Texas seems able to produce. Friedman was in town Thursday trying on a new hat — gubernatorial candidate.

But is the Kinkster a true independent visionary and reformer or merely a clown touring the state to get a few laughs and shill his new olive oil?

Is he serious and perhaps more importantly, can he be taken seriously?

“Of course,” deadpans Friedman, puffing his stogie.

Friedman says he’s deadly serious about his run at the state’s highest office, but is determined to make that run as much fun as possible.

“This thing started as a lark; some would say a joke,” Friedman said. “It’s much more than that now.”

The Galveston Pachyderm Club, an organization of staunch Republicans, hoped to find out how much more when members invited Friedman to speak at a luncheon. Friedman let them know he was serious by revealing his campaign would be managed by the same consultant that helped former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura become Minnesota’s governor.

Friedman is counting on the same independent spirit that swept Ventura to victory.

“Jesse understood that the guy with the most money shouldn’t always win,” Friedman said. “What Jesse didn’t understand is that wrestling is real and politics is fixed.”

Friedman called politics a game rigged by career politicians happy to keep Texas’ voter turnout at a dismal 29 percent. Only fresh ideas and an independent spirit, he said, could repair the big business of running for office.

“My role models are Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King and Ghandi,” he said. “Those three wouldn’t have spent $100 million on an election. Those three died broke and will live forever.”

Friedman said he’s all too aware that he will never raise enough money to compete financially with the campaigns of the major parties. Instead, he hopes to strike a chord with voters through straight talk and charm.

“All I know how to do is ride, shoot straight and tell the truth,” Friedman said. “This campaign is about ideas, not money. I think I’m more in touch with the people of Texas than any politician.”

Friedman spoke in favor of biodiesel as the future of Texas’ energy needs and pledged to appoint country legend Willie Nelson as the state’s energy czar. To solve Texas’ problems funding education, he suggested eliminating all public funding of school sports, handing the burden off to corporate sponsors like Nike and Wilson and freeing up that money for other necessities.

The issue of gambling, he said, he would leave up to local governments.

“Gambling would radically change Galveston,” Friedman said. “One view is that it would ruin Galveston, and the other view is that all this money is going to Louisiana, so why not take advantage? I think that needs to be a local issue.”

More than any issue, however, Friedman says he wants to return the shine to the Lone Star and make Texans proud again.

“I think everyone’s tired of politics-as-usual,” he said. “The governorship and the people are crying out for more spirituality and a little bit of truth.

“I think it’s an idea whose time has come: An independent winner in the most independent state of all.”

But to even get on to the ballot, Friedman must collect 50,000 signatures. No one who votes in the gubernatorial primaries will be eligible to sign. The Jewish cowboy is confident that he will prevail.

“Once we get on the ballot, you’re going to hear a great sucking sound,” Friedman said. “That’s going to be the sound of Republicans and Democrats jumping onboard.”

On Thursday, however, not all of the Pachyderms were so sure.

“I was expecting him to be more outrageous,” said Ray Holbrook, a former county judge. “If you read his Texas Monthly column, he gets pretty wild. He made some sense today, and boy he packed ’em in.”

But will voters be able to take Friedman seriously? Holbrook thought for a moment.

“Honestly, I doubt it,” he said.

But Friedman has met more than a few Texans who seem to like him just fine. Besides, he’s having too much fun to quit.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I can shine a light into the darkness so we can talk about it and think about it,” Friedman said. “I want to galvanize the electorate, and when we get rid of the politicians, it won’t be Texas news, it’ll be Texas history, and bluebonnets will spring up across the nation.

“That’s a garden I’d like to see grow,” Friedman said, tipping his hat and puffing his cigar.

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Story Source: Galveston Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Malaysia; Writing - Malaysia; Humor; Election2006 - Friedman



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