With the state primary runoff election only a month away, Cleve Hattersley, who is steering Richard "Kinky" Friedman's run for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, says the big push is on in Harris County, where Friedman did poorly in the March primary.
"Harris is the only major county we got whupped in during the primary, so we are focusing on it," says Hattersley.
Unknown Cleburne insurance man Jimmy Ray Hogan out-polled Friedman in Harris County, pulling 42 percent of the vote to Friedman's 33 percent. He also ran ahead of Friedman statewide.
"The meeting with the Oil Patch Democrats and Harris County Young Democrats will go a long way towards getting the party to go with Kinky instead of against him," Hattersley surmises.
Friedman will address a combined meeting of Oil Patch Democrats and Harris County Young Democrats this evening.
Hattersley ascribes Friedman's poor showing in Harris County in March to a negative phone bank program guided by Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Leticia Van De Putte (which we noted in our previous reports).
"We know most of the negative votes in Houston were inspired by the anti-Kinky phone calls," says Hattersley. "So we expect a pretty big turnaround next time simply based on this."
Van de Putte and other high-level Democrats closed ranks behind Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III in the primary; Fitzsimons came in last in the voting statewide and in Harris County.
So in a what-the-hell turn of events, Friedman, who is pushing to legalize marijuana, make medical marijuana available, restart a once important commercial hemp industry, and enact a host of other reforms, comes into town fresh off being endorsed by the Dallas Morning News as well as political blogs like Texpatriate. (Talk show host Don Imus also endorsed Friedman.)
After being studiously ignored by state and national Democratic hierarchies and every major news outlet in the state in the March primary election, Friedman has finally begun to earn some grudging respect from state Democrats who view Hogan, who has remained something of a mystery man, as either a Trojan horse or an empty vessel. As we reported a few weeks ago, Hogan has essentially eschewed any type of regular political campaign, has not put forth any platform, and usually votes Republican.
The Texas Tribune recently gave a lengthy opinion on "The Case For Kinky." With endorsements and a slew of positive publicity for his candidacy, Friedman's campaign seems to be picking up momentum at a crucial point in the race. Don't say we didn't tell you this might happen in our original cover story about the race.
In one of the more fanciful moments of the race, Friedman will stop in the heart of Montrose for a meet-and-greet with the public at Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge Thursday at 4:30 p.m. He follows up that up with a more upscale social A-list affair arranged by local attorney David Berg at Avalon Diner that evening.
Primary runoff voting takes place May 27.