It's not unusual for cigar-chomping politicians to trek around Texas in search of an audience and votes - but few are as colorful or outspoken as Kinky Friedman.
The iconic Texas musician, author, entrepreneur and candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner will make a personal appearance at the historic Conroe Sparkle Event Hall, located at 101 Metcalf St. in downtown Conroe, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27.
The event, sponsored by the Friends of Sparkle, features Friedman performing with his current band, reading from his latest book, "Heroes of a Texas Childhood," and stumping for votes.
"I think there's a lot I can do for Texas," Friedman said. "I have a unique approach to promoting Texas products and can do a lot to grow the office."
Friedman rose to national fame in the early 1970s with his band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys - offering an alternative, often humorous approach to country music. He has authored 29 books - mostly detective novels - and has become a successful entrepreneur with his signature brands of cigars and salsa.
Counting both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as personal friends, Friedman says he always has had an interest in politics. He entered the 2008 Texas governor's race with a colorful campaign as an independent - garnering nearly 13 percent of the vote.
Now Friedman is challenging Hank Gilbert in the primary to be the Democratic candidate in the November election for Texas agriculture commissioner. While he acknowledges he may not have specific experience in all facets of the state's agriculture industry, he says no one is in a better position to promote Texas products inside or outside the state.
"We can get experts in soil testing and water rights," he said. "We need to expand the market for Texas products."
For those who question his credentials to run for state office, Friedman brings up a quote he attributes to Texas politician Jim Hightower: "Anyone with a pulse and a Texas address can run for office."
His opponent sees Friedman as a political spoiler who helped elect Republican Rick Perry in 2008 by taking votes away from his Democratic challenger.
For Gilbert, the campaign is about addressing the loss of family farms in Texas and restoring property rights to ranchers. He believes Friedman is promoting himself more than running for office.
"A legitimate candidate would be focused on the campaign and the issues," Gilbert said. "He's running all around the state promoting his band, his music, his cigars and his salsa. He's not in it to win an election; he's in it to promote himself."
Friedman admits to being a colorful character, saying that characteristic will help, not hinder him as agriculture commissioner. His campaign recently was endorsed by the Dallas Morning News.
At his appearance in Conroe, Friedman will perform with Washington Ratso on guitar and Little Jewford on keyboards. He will read from his latest book that features essays on his childhood heroes.
Friedman will be available for photos and to autograph albums, CDs and books purchased at the event or brought to the Sparkle Event Hall.
"I'll sign anything but bad legislation," Friedman said.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Source: Houston Community Newspapers