Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami speaks with a supporter last week at Cafe’ on the Square. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By ANDY SEVILLA
Palestinian-born Houston businessman Farouk Shami, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Texas, made two campaign stops last week in San Marcos, where he called Democratic primary opponent Bill White and Republican Governor Rick Perry “proven failures.”
Shami went even further about White and the Democratic Party, telling the Texas State College Democrats that he faced “discrimination” within the party once he announced his run for governor. Shami said the “party machine” opposed his bid because of his name, religion, and origin. At a recent campaign stop in South Texas, Shami called White a “racist” because of a campaign advertisement in which White identified himself as a Texas native, born in San Antonio.
“I didn’t have a choice where to be born,” Shami said. “But I do have the choice of where to live. And I choose Texas … I wasn’t born here, but I’m more Texan than he will ever be … We should be an open-minded state. If we elected Barack Hussein Obama as president of the United States, why can’t we elect Farouk Shami as governor of Texas? My name is easier to say… We elected Black, why not Brown?”
Taking more aim at White leading up to the March 2 primary election, Shami told a political rally at Café on the Square last week that Houston’s $103 million shortfall is due to White’s mismanagement of Houston when he was the mayor of that city. The Houston 2010 Fiscal Year began July 31, 2009. White was mayor of Houston from January 2004 to January 2010.
“Their (Perry and White) experience is failure,” Shami said. “My experience is success.”
Shami, 67, first came to the United States when he was 20 years old with only $71 in his pocket, he said. He first arrived in New York and then moved around the country, waiting tables before realizing he could make more money styling hair and ultimately being awarded the title of the nation’s top stylist. Shami said he then opened several businesses, including hair salons, and created several products, like CHI (ceramic heating iron) and Biosilk, which account for his fortune.
“I’m an example that the American dream still exists,” Shami said. “If you work hard in the United States of America, with honesty and opportunity, you can reach the American dream.”
Shami said his history is proof that he can balance a budget. He said Texas is on the verge of “bankruptcy” and the state needs him as the “Chief Executive Officer.”
Said Shami, “I’m a businessman. Let me clarify that. I’m a businessman, not a career politician.”
Shami attributes “Perry’s failures” to his loyalty to lobbyists. Perry’s Republican opponent, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, makes the same charges against Perry.
“They (White and Perry) are career politicians who are really slaves to lobbyists,” Shami said. “They created this recession – not you and not me. This is what encouraged me to run. I’m a businessman, and I know how to balance budgets. I’m funding my own campaign, so I will not owe it to anybody. I will work for the people of Texas… Yes, I’m not conventional and I don’t have political experience, but to me, that means I’m a clean man.”
Shami said in San Marcos last week that he already had spent $11.1 million out of his own pocket on his gubernatorial campaign.
Shami said Texas needs new jobs, which he said, he has experience bringing, highlighting his companies that have created thousands of jobs in Texas. Along with jobs, Shami said, Texas needs casinos. He said jobs and casinos will get Texas out of debt and “create prosperity.”
Shami said he also wants quality education, adding that community colleges should be tuition free to all Texas students. He said he also want to reform health care in Texas, and preserve the environment.
“I will work hard for this state, to make it the riches state in America,” he said. “I don’t believe in raising taxes. I believe in creating revenue. We’re in the verge of bankruptcy in this state, we need to create jobs.”
Poverty should not exist in America, Shami said, adding that an educated population and employment opportunities would save the state millions of dollars in unemployment benefits and other social programs.