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Friedman, Strayhorn Make the Cut – Hope Lives in Texas

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Despite what many have cited as ridiculously difficult ballot qualification requirements, both State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and entertainer Kinky Friedman are now more than qualified to be on the ballot in as independents in the Texas Governor’s race this November.

Strayhorn turned in about 223,000 petition signatures on Tuesday and Friedman turned in about 169,000 yesterday, beating their required number of signatures by a factor of more than 4 to 1 and 3 to 1 respectively, and making it in under an incredibly tight deadline, gathering all their signatures in less than two months and drawing on only those voters who did not vote in the primary this spring.

Verifying the petition signatures will take some time as Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams has them all manually verified in the slowest and most painstaking method possible – including calling many of the signers on the phone – in order to reduce the campaigning time for the two candidates. Strayhorn had filed a lawsuit to try to speed up the procedure, but it was rejected by the court.

Despite these difficulties momentum for the independent candidates seems to be snowballing. Driving around Austin and the surrounding area Friedman bumper stickers are everywhere, followed by small numbers of Strayhorn stickers. Supporters of Perry are few and far between and no one seems to have even heard of Democrat Chris Bell.

Bell is trying to make the best of the situation and point out that Friedman and Strayhorn are likely to draw more votes from Perry than they are from him, but despite the desperate scenarios thrown out by groups like the Lonestar Project who claim this situation guarantees a Bell win, the truth is that Bell has little name recognition or money, and both independent candidates got more ballot signatures than Bell got in the Democratic primary where turnout was extremely low, likely because voters wanted to remain eligible to sign Friedman or Strayhorn petitions.

Perry’s campaign has commented frequently and derisively about the petition drive, pointing out that the total petition signatures for Strayhorn were only a small fraction of the vote in the last election. While this may be true, those signatures were gathered in only a few weeks from a very limited pool of qualified signers, and likely represent a fraction of the number of votes the two independents will be able to generate in the election. Even if the independents get only twice as many votes as they got signatures, that would be more votes than the rather large margin between Perry and his opponent in the last gubernatorial election.

The conventional wisdom from both the Democrats and the Republicans is that the impact of the two independents on the election will be minimal, but Strayhorn has an established base of support and Friedman seems to be generating substantial grassroots interest which transcends party boundaries and reaches beyond the normal limits of politics to draw in a remarkable amount of interest from those disenchanted with politics as usual. The conventional wisdom has Perry winning with around 40%, Bell second in the mid-30s , Strayhorn in the low 20s and Friedman in the single digits. I’m going to go out on a limb right now and say that the numbers are just about backwards because the analysts just aren’t figuring in the massive voter dissatisfaction with the system and with Perry. I see a very real possibility of a surprise Friedman win, Perry second in a close struggle with Strayhorn in the mid-20s and Bell forgotten in last place in the single digits.

One subject which is dominating the polls and on which the entire election may hinge is the issue of gratuitous toll roads and massive development of megahighways like the Trans Texas Corridor. Perry is the only candidate to support these projects which are widely hated by Texans of all political persuasions.

Perry’s role in developing and promoting these boondoggles and the favoritism he has shown to cronies and political allies while riding roughshod over the best interests of the public, have made him far more unpopular than he and his campaign staff seem to realize. In small towns threatened by the highway projects and among urban consumers facing huge and unnecessary toll expenses for highways already funded with taxes and bonds but now being turned into toll-roads as a form of hidden taxation, Perry is literally hated and despised as the symbol of corrupt and rapacious government completely out of touch with public interest.

Perry may be lucky to hold onto anything beyond the 20% of the votes controlled by the Baptist bluehairs and the hardcore religious right as election day nears.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Woohoo! I had confidence in Friedman’s ability to collect signatures, but this is reassuring.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I think the large total of signatures collected between the two candidates is a very strong indicator of the groundswell against Perry. That so many people went to the trouble of not voting in the primary – and I know a lot of folks who didn’t vote just so they could sign – suggests that there are probably a lot more who will be ready to express their discontent in the fall.

    Dave

  • http://blogs.epicindia.com/leapinthedark Richard Marcus

    Wow that is great news. To be honest I was worried about the chances of Kinky getting the signatures he needed, and if I’d have known there was another independant trying to get on the ballot, it would have been twice as worrisome.

    Seeing both Kinky and Strayhorn (with a name like that you just have to be from Texas) getting such huge support for just a petition drive, would make me very nervous right now if I were the incumbant. Considering the stringent rules governing who could sign the petitions, that has to reflect a huge amount of voter disatisfaction.

    I hate to be parinoid, but is there anyway, aside from being deliberatly obstructive which he sounds like he’s doing already, that the Secretary of State can put the fix in to disrail either of the candidates? What sort of proof does he need to provide to strike signatures from the petition?

    I wish I could be as optomistic as you Dave, and some of the people commneting on my piece last week, about a Friedman victory. But this guy Perry sounds like he would pretty much stop at nothing to ensure his victory.

    You’ve gotta to wonder what George Bush and family are doing in this circumstance; is their silence deafening, in other words indicating a lack of support for the incumbant, or have they been coming out in his favour. Considering the personal relationship that the Bushs have with Kinky I have to wonder where George and Laura are going to fall on this one.

    It certainly sounds like the election in Texas will be at least one of the most entertaining ones in the country, with three, maybe four viable candidates if the Democrate can become a factor. Now that’s giving people a choice.

    Keep us posted Dave.

    Richard Marcus

  • Bliffle

    Kinky looks like the best qualified candidate in TX, to me, anyway. Ride’em Texas Jewboy!

  • Nominay

    Election day, 2006 – Perry 40% Strayhorn 20% Friedman 20% Bell 20% – end of story.

  • MM

    Kinky is too liberal for Texas. Sorry to burst the bubble but that is the truth. People are fed up with Perry but not enough to allow Kinky to come in and do the things he wants to do like free all the death row inmates, hire a criminal like Willie the tax dodger for what ever purpose and so on. He is so firmly against the death penalty that he has promised nobody will be put to death while he is governor. Maybe in passive California, but not in Texas.