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Kinky Friedman begins his ballot-access petition drive

A guard wearing a brown uniform and a cowboy hat paced in front of the Alamo. A silhouette of a man slumped on a bench across the street. The trees were still and the block was calm even at Pat O’Brien’s, where at this hour the evening apparently had entered the eye of the Hurricane drinks.

About 25 Kinky Friedman supporters, including one who appeared to be in her pajamas, gathered with their dogs, “Why the hell not?” T-shirts, and Texas flags in front of the Alamo, awaiting the stroke of 12:01 a.m. the day after the March 7 primary, when independent and third-party political candidates could begin collecting signatures for ballot access.

KTSA talk-show host Chris Duel was the first person in Bexar County to sign gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman’s ballot-access petition. The campaign to put Friedman on the Texas ballot began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 8. (Photo by Lisa Sorg)

“This is the exact place where Kinky Friedman announced his campaign,” said Phil Darrah, coordinator of Friedman’s Bexar County campaign, referring to the Alamo. “This is the perfect storm.”

Over the next 75 days, the Friedman campaign must collect 45,450 signatures of registered voters who didn’t cast their ballot in the 2006 primary or runoff. Considering Bexar County had only a 7 percent voter turnout for the primary, petition circulators, as they are known in election parlance, should be able to flush qualified signators out of the brush.

“I know the purpose of this petition,” read a Friedman campaign worker as a tattooed man poised his pen above paper. “I have not voted in the general primary election or runoff primary election of any political party that has nominated, at either election, a candidate for the office of governor for which Kinky Friedman is a candidate.”

“Bark for Kinky,” yelled the crowd of Kinky Friedman supporters, who had gathered at the Alamo to launch his ballot-access campaign. (Photo by Lisa Sorg)

If petitioners are successful, Friedman’s name will appear on the November ballot as he tries to dethrone Republican Governor Rick Perry and fend off other parties’ gubernatorial competition: Democrat Chris Bell, Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent Carole Strayhorn, Libertarian James Werner, and the Green Party’s Jerry Larson.

Try to imagine Friedman’s portrait hanging in the State Capitol among the Lone Star State’s 42 previous governors: The smooth, prim coiff of J. Pinckney Henderson, Texas’s first governor; the deepset eyes and scrub-brush beard of Richard Coke (1874-1887), credited with revamping the late 19th-century public-school system; the wavy comb-over of Beauford Jester (1947-1949), whose opposition to the integration of the University of Texas was no joke; and the faraway look in the eyes of George Bush (1995-2000), whose presidency would become the fodder for late-night talk-show ridicule. And there would be Friedman, comedian, author, politician: A black cowboy hat perched on his head, a cigar tucked between his fingers, and perhaps a bottle of Guinness in the other hand.

The next evening, Darrah brought petitions to Casbeers, a local watering hole whose owners are Friedman supporters. An 84-year-old man came to the bar Darrah said, just to sign the petition. “Things have gone incredibly well,” Darrah exclaimed Friday afternoon as he prepared to kick the weekend signature-gathering into overdrive. “The e-mails and the phones are screaming. It’s big, big, big!”

To find out about signing a petition or other campaign information, go to

By Lisa Sorg