The Unprecedented Campaign of Kinky Friedman

“For a while, people did really take him seriously.”

By Laura RiceOctober 27, 2016 12:52 pm|

The current political temperature is that the ongoing election is unprecedented and never before seen. But this talk is a bit strained for anyone who’s followed Texas politics in the past decade. What about the Kinky Friedman’s campaign? He’s the cigar smoking, mustachioed Texas cowboy who ran for Texas governor in 2006.

David Harsteen’s documentary chronicled Friedman’s antics. “Along Came Kinky … Texas Jewboy for Governor.” The film has a panel discussion and screening Thursday night at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin.

Friedman was a singer/songwriter and Texas raconteur, known for his satirical and intentionally provocative behaviors, Harsteen says.

“For a while, people did really take him seriously,” Harsteen says. “He was who he was. He was Kinky running for governor.”

Friedman embraced his lack of political experience, much like Donald Trump. A major highlight for him was getting on the ballot.

“There’s a significant ballot access hurdle for independent candidates in Texas,” Harsteen says. “Kinky and his staff ran a really smart and great ballot signature campaign to get him on there.”

But the campaign still caused problems for Friedman. Harsteen says Friedman started out his campaign “running to lose” in order to continue his satirical antics, which made it tough to transition into a serious candidate.

There are similarities between Friedman and Donald Trump, Harsteen says. They are both the outsider coming in to shake things up, and have their celebrity status and raunchiness get thrown back in their face.

“But with Kinky I don’t think he ever really recovered,” Harsteen says. “I definitely see a lot of the same energy in the electorate. People embrace figures like Friedman or Trump because they don’t feel served and want somebody new to shake things up. But the system doesn’t really work that way.”

Post by John Flynn.