Until now, Texas has always been a politically dynamic state. Known for the larger than life personalities of Sam Houston, LBJ, Bob Bullock, Ann Richards, Dubya and even Ross Perot, the state is now known (or not known) for the likes of Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn. What are they best known for? Craddick and Dewhurst for their ongoing feud, the governor for his full head of hair and Strayhorn for the number of times she's been married and changed her last name.
Concerned more with fundraising, partisan battles and image, the most this quartet has accomplished is clearing the way for a plethora of toll roads and cutting budgets for public and higher education. The legislature, now in its second special session, is on the verge of failing for a second year to sort out school finance. That's why Kinky Friedman is good for Texas politics.
Friedman, king of the one-liners, humorist and former member of the band Texas Jewboys, is running for governor provided he collects 45,540 verified signatures. He'll meet Perry and Strayhorn in the 2006 race. In the meantime, he's taken on the do-nothing state of politics in Texas. While his odds of winning are slim, he's talking about issues voters would be lucky to hear from Perry or Strayhorn. Most worthy is his motivation to change the current election laws that make it nearly impossible for a non-party candidate to get on the ballot.
What's he have to do? For starters, he cannot begin collecting signatures until after the March 2006 primaries. He can only get signatures from people who don't vote in the primaries, and he'll have only 62 days to get them. Should a primary runoff be required, he'll have to wait 30 more days before he can start collecting signatures. But the deadline won't change. and he'll have only 30 days left to get on the ballot.
Friedman may not share the same level of fame or notoriety as say Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura, but Schwarzenegger and Ventura beat the odds because of their predecessors' similarly ineffective leadership. After all, Friedman can't make it worse than it already is. And as he would say, "why the hell not?"