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Kinky Friedman: Where There's A Weed There's A Way


by: Joe Deshotel

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 01:04 PM CDT


On Thursday morning Kinky Friedman, Democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, sat down for an interview with the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith. Kinky is a well-known but polarizing figure finding himself in a run off with the unknown and plain named Jim Hogan who openly views himself as a protest vote after the party favorite failed to make it out of the first round. Kinky, who gained fame as a Texas outlaw, comedian, and entertainer, is finding that the most difficult part of landing his next big gig is having others take him seriously.

For all the right reasons Friedman wants to legalize pot and hemp which he has made the focus of his campaign but unfortunately doing so is not in the purview of the Texas Agricultural Commissioner. When pressed on this by Smith, he touted the economic and environmental benefits of farming hemp vs. Cotton, our state's current largest cash crop. He said he spoke to many small farmers who were enthusiastic about the potential for a crop that used 50% less water without any of the pesticides.

He then went on the offensive asking why this Smith seem to be dismissing his policy position as if the "whole world wasn't talking about this...Lots of candidates are talking about education, but I'm talking about how to fund It," he said.

More from Kinky on Willie, weed and water, below the jump...

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"Look at a piss ant state like Colorado and how much revenue they are projecting," adding that Texas could do many times more. That would be great progress he said, over the $250 million we spent putting 75,000 people in jail for marijuana only to find out, "we find out we could've put them all through Harvard instead." Friedman said he never smokes the "dope" except when he is with "Willie" Nelson because that was just good "Texas etiquette."

When asked about his qualifications to run for this office, which by statute requires some ranching or farming experience, he mentioned his time in the Peace Corp helping tribal farmers and his "Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch," a no kill shelter for stray and abused animals of all kinds. "What we do with the strays in our lives, 2 or 4 legged, is a measure of our humanity," he said.

Friedman's website focuses mainly on marijuana policy but he had a number of ideas regarding other aspects of the post should he get it. The Ag Commission in Texas oversees the school lunch program which Kinky says he would like to see focus more on locally-sourced and organic foods. He thought the students themselves should be taught to plant gardens and grow food. He said these things are already starting to happen elsewhere but Texas public schools needed leadership and he has the personality to inspire young people.

Heme mentioned desalination as an important part of water policy pointing to successes in El Paso. He also said he was a supporter of Prop. Six that kickstarted the state's water plan with Rainy Day Funds.

The two also spoke about immigration. Kinky highlighted his high Primary support from the border community and talked about how import migrant labor was to the agricultural industry. He pointed to Alabama farmers who are now suffering because of the state's draconian policies towards immigrants.

Usually the Agricultural Commissioner race is a boring one buried below the state's top elected offices, but it has also served as a quiet stepping stone to higher office for many -- including Gov. Rick Perry. This cycle will prove to be the exact opposite with firebrands on both sides vying for their party's nomination. Kinky ensured that this was not the case with him "i'm 69" he said, and it would more likely be a "tombstone" that it is a stepping stone.

One of his two potential Republican opponents has Ted Nugent for his campaign treasurer. Kinky said he didn't dislike the controversial rock star but called him a "thin-socked Yankee" who "shouldn't be coming to Texas and telling us how to vote." Kinky has had his own share of controversy over non-PC comments, but said his stage act was always equal opportunity offensive.

When asked about his on again off again relationship with the Democratic Party, he ran for Governor as an Independent in 2006, he said, "I am a Harry Truman Blue Dog Democrat." And said that he would like to see more of Ann Richards' and Barbara Jordan's spirit floating around this election.

He also said he never endorsed Rick Perry for President. He was asked to write some nice words about the man by The Daily Beast. He said by the final version that got published he was somehow endorsing the Governor saying, "it's a problem with the Internet." He assured the audience and his interviewer that he was in full support of the Democratic ticket even if that support wasn't fully reciprocated.

He said he believed with his positions he could actually bring some independents and some moderate Republicans over to voting for the Democratic Party. "I believe by November I can convert even Republicans on the economic benefits of hemp." Another reason he would later say in our conversation after the event, is that Republicans aren't enthusiastic about their own candidates.

Like his Democratic opponent in the Primary he said he would not be seeking newspaper endorsements, and that he expects "more conscious" voters to turn out for the runoff. He doesn't expect the anti-Kinky vote to show up at the polls. He said he harbored no hard feelings from Democratic officials who worked against him before and it was time to move Texas forward.

He called himself a visionary and said in many ways the Democratic Party was catching up to him. For example, he said in 2006 he was supportive of gay marriage when it was considered "political suicide" and said then that, "they have every right to be as miserable as we do." Then he pointed to marijuana legalization as the next major cultural shift that Democrats should get behind. "If we can win," he said, "it will be a time to find common humanity, in the words of Barbara Jordan."

And really, in the words in Kinky Friedman -- why the hell not?

You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.



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Do not republish without express written permission.


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I'm voting for Jim Hogan (0.00 / 0)
Jim Hogan does not just see himself as a protest vote. He wants the job.  He is just campaigning because he believes in doing the job of Agriculture Commissioner, which he has studied and knows -- not in spending other people's money that could go to other things, on a political campaign.  He is a real citizen and not a politician.  

As for Kinky - "why the hell not?"  All the reasons Burnt Orange Report reported on in 2006 for one thing.  Brushing it under the rug now, when it wouldn't have been brushed under the rug if it was Fitzsimons and Kinky in the runoff, is disappointing and hypocritical.  I also don't believe in marijuana legalization (only believe in decriminalization).  I myself might abstain in November if Kinky is the Democratic nominee.


Jim Hogan lacks realism (0.00 / 0)
Campaigning is a crucial part of politics, no matter the position.  The fact that he is so clueless and unrealistic about how politics work doesn't bode well for him handling the politics of the office well.  Agriculture Commissioner may not be a partisan position but it is a political one, as any position will be at that high a level.

Friedman is not he epitome of political astuteness, and inferior to a candidate like Fitzsimons, but he is still leagues above Hogan.

And very importantly, he brings something unique to the ticket which could possibly bring us more votes, which we desperately need.  Yes Hogan is unique, but he is not willing to put in any work to bring us more votes like Friedman.

"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually."- James A. Baldwin


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