posted by Josh Goodman
Here's a pop quiz for the elections junkies out there. What candidate for governor recently described himself as "a compassionate redneck," noted that Willie Nelson cautioned him, "No pedophile jokes until after the election," suggested the slogan, "It's not just for lesbians anymore," to the local WNBA team, admitted, "I've been stoned a lot of times. And I've been with a lot of beautiful women," and stated, "God help the small child that gets between me and a slot machine."
The answer of course is Texas' own Kinky Friedman. That Kinky said all of those things isn't the least bit surprising to anyone who has been following his independent campaign, although it was pretty impressive that a Washington Post reporter following him recorded all those gems and more in just a couple of days (My favorite was when he compared himself to Noah of biblical fame and Gandhi, but still managed to come off as self-deprecating). The Post article is, by the way, the best piece I've read about Kinky so far.
In November, the joke may be on Kinky's opponents, especially Democratic nominee Chris Bell and fellow independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Bell represents the party that dominated Texas politics for more than a century, while Strayhorn won 64% of the vote when she was reelected state comptroller in 2002, but no matter. The most recent poll had Kinky pulling 21% and leading both of them.
Governor Rick Perry still has a comfortable lead, but he would do well to recall some recent history. Two days before Election Day 1998, two surveys showed Jesse Ventura running third in Minnesota. Buoyed by a swarm of supporters that pollsters missed, Ventura finished first in the only poll that mattered.