See Kinky Run

Kinky Friedman
The Texas Governor's race is likely to get really interesting and even entertaining if Kinky Friedman does what he wants to do. The Texas musician and best-selling author says he wants to be the next Governor. The so-called "Kinkster" recently sat down with KUHF News Director Paul Pendergraft to discuss his unlikely adventure.

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As you might imagine, Kinky Friedman is not what most people would describe as a normal political candidate and to some, that may be the appeal. Truth is, he's not acting any different today than he ever has, he's just being himself. But now he says he wants to be Governor.

"You can lead a politician to water but you can't make 'em think. That's why musicians could better run this state than politicians...that's not a joke. Beauticians could better run it than politicians. So as an independent candidate, I ask myself...WWWRD? What would Will Rogers Do?..."

That populist approach is one way to describe Friedman's candidacy. However taking it to the next step and getting his name on the ballot is another question all together.

"Texas makes it very difficult for an independent to get on the ballot. You need to collect 50,000 signatures right after the primaries. You've got 30 days to do it. Anybody who votes in the primary on either side can't even sign the petition. So it all favors the incumbent..."

Friedman says voter apathy is confirmation to him that the political system needs a shock.

"To give you an example, 58% of eligible voters voted in Iraq. 65% in Minnesota when Jesse Ventura ran. 29% of eligible voters voted in the Perry-Sanchez race, meaning 71% of us didn't like the choice between plastic or paper..."

The issue of funding public schools is not lost on Friedman. He says he's got a plan called "Slots for Tots" he wants bar and club owners all across Texas to have video poker computer terminals in their establishments that patrons can support with the understanding that a percentage of the proceeds go toward funding public schools. He claims it would generate $3 billion annually.

"I don't know if you know what our ranking is of high school kids getting to college but I can tell ya' it's 50th in 50 states. We're also 1st in the drop-out rate. So we're last in education, first in execution, as Dr. Phil would say, 'how's that workin' for ya'? So I can't screw things up worse than they already are..."

Dr. Bob Stein of Rice University studies political science and says Friedman's dream isn't crazy, but the odds are long. Stein says, "There's a reality here that Governor Perry is no more popular the day Hutchison decided not to run against him. He could possibly be a factor...He could be a for in this race. And I think that clealy should the Governor's fortunes continue to decline and a lot will depend on the special session, it could be a competitive race. Having said all that, I don't think Kinky Friedman will be the next governor."

Friedman says, "My goal is to get rid of politics as usual and to make that Lone Star shine again....to bring back the glory of Texas. Believe me, I'm for the little fellers, not the Rockefellers..."

Listen to the entire interview

Bio photo of Paul Pendergraft

Paul Pendergraft

Artistic Advisor

Paul Pendergraft is KUHF-Houston Public Radio’s Senior Producer for News & Public Affairs...