Kinky Friedman speaking this week to the Texas State College Democrats. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman spoke at the Texas State College Democrats’ first meeting of the spring semester Wednesday only to be interrupted by some unresolved drama within the organization.
As Friedman began his speech to the Democrats, Brian Hannah, who in recent months has been a community activist, rose up, apologetically stole the stage from Kinky and began reading a sheet of paper aloud saying that the College Democrats “are not a credible” organization.
College Democrats president Adrian Zamora said Hannah was referencing an incident that took place in the fall 2009 semester, when a vote he cast for the office of vice-president was dismissed. Zamora said a two-way tie ensued in the race for College Democrats vice-president after all the votes were tallied. Hannah’s tie-breaking vote was unaccounted for because, according to Zamora, Hannah was not yet a student at Texas State.
Zamora said the College Democrats invite “all students and everybody in the community” to partake in the meetings and take advantage of presentations and special guests, but only registered students and organization members are allowed to vote in their elections.
Hannah said during his interruption that he had paid dues last semester, yet his vote was declined.
Zamora said that if Hannah did pay any dues, that the payment was considered as a contribution because he was not a student, barring him from participating in the College Democrats election.
Friedman seemed perplexed, but allowed Hannah to speak his mind before the latter was escorted out by College Democrats officers. Initially, officers attempted to physically remove him from the room, but Hannah warned that if anyone touched him it could be considered assault. Ultimately, an officer was able to talk Hannah out of the room and take the conversation outside.
Friedman, who ran for governor in 2006, is running for the Agriculture Commissioner’s seat this cycle after dropping out of the gubernatorial race. Friedman said continuing a bid for the governor’s seat would have only divided the Democratic Party. He also said that he could not possibly raise as much money as former Houston Mayor Bill White, who is running for the Democratic Party nomination to the governor’s seat.
White is running in the Democratic primary against Farouk Shami, Bill Dear, Felix Rodriguez Alvarado, Alma Ludvina Aguado, Clement E. Glenn and Star Locke. Incumbent Governor Rick Perry is being challenged in the Republican primary by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and former Wharton County Republican Chairperson and businesswoman Debra Medina. Several Independents have also thrown their hat in the ring for Governor, including Stephen Dewayne McGee, Kevin Sill, Dale Robertson, and Louis Podesta.
Friedman admitted to lacking a background in agriculture, though he said he lived on a ranch and had a small herd of six cows. Friedman went on to say that an agricultural background is not important, insisting that the focus should be on results and “what we’re going to do” if elected to office.
Friedman said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, whose term expires this year, also lacks a background in agriculture.
“(Staples) is a corporate guy,” Friedman said. “(Staples) wants to be Rick Perry when he grows up.”
Friedman said the only person from West Texas who grew up in a ranch and wore cowboy clothes was Rick Perry, who served two terms as Agriculture Commissioner in 1990 and 1994.
“But (Perry) doesn’t wear those clothes anymore,” Friedman said. ” … One of these days (Perry) might come out of the closet on a bull dozer.”
Friedman said that, if elected, he would concentrate on “getting things done.” He said he would help to curb child hunger, encourage “no-kill” animal shelters throughout Texas, much like the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch near Kerrville, which he helped found.
Asked about last year’s failed initiative in San Marcos mandating the micro-chipping of all pet dogs and cats, Friedman said, “We cannot do it… we have enough bureaucracy and red tape already.”
Friedman said “there’s nothing you can’t do” as an Agriculture Commissioner, because the office has a “huge” budget and “a staff of about 1,000,” adding that the office is not bound to the legislature.
“What we don’t have is the leadership,” Friedman said. “We have the money to get things done.”
Friedman said that in Texas there is no reason for poverty and hunger. He said “don’t let anybody tell you we don’t have the money to do things,” adding that Texas has the tenth largest economy in the world.
The Texas Department of Agriculture website states its mission statement as a “partner with all Texans to make Texas the nation’s leader in agriculture, fortify our economy, empower rural communities, promote healthy lifestyles, and cultivate winning strategies for rural, suburban and urban Texas through exceptional service and the common threads of agriculture in our daily lives.”
Among the lighter tones in Friedman’s speech, he said that he will implement a plan of “no cow left behind” as Agriculture Commissioner, and he anecdotally referenced his will, saying that he’s getting older in age and when he dies he wants to be cremated, then have the ashes thrown on Rick Perry’s hair.
Friedman is up against Hank Gilbert in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner, while incumbent Staples will go unchallenged in the Republican primary. Staples was first elected in 2006.
Zamora said that despite the “disrespectful” interruption at the beginning of Friedman’s speech, the meeting “went well” and they “had a good turnout.”Email | Print