Texas' Kinky Governor's Race - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/07/06 - Austin

Texas' Kinky Governor's Race

Independent candidate for Texas governor Kinky Friedman is campaigning against Republican Gov. Rick Perry. (Donald Winslow/Reuters) Independent candidate for Texas governor Kinky Friedman is campaigning against Republican Gov. Rick Perry. (Donald Winslow/Reuters)

A political showdown in the Texas governor's race took an important turn Friday night as political outsider and country music entertainer Kinky Friedman joined the other candidates for a debate.

Friedman's campaign has made the campaign of the more colorful and closely watched elections to watch this year.

"Ask not if you are proud of Texas, but ask if Texas is proud of you," Friedman has said.

Friday night the challengers got their one chance to go face to face with Republican Gov. Rick Perry -- and it was Friedman, the man in the black hat, who turned the debate into a Texas showdown.

"Everybody is ganging up on me here," Friedman said during the debate. "They are trying to tackle the guy who is carrying the ball."

Friedman is an outrageous comedian, a mystery writer and satirical musician. One of his biggest hits includes the lyric,"No they ain't makin Jews like Jesus anymore."

After decades as an entertainer, Friedman said he now has the experience to become Texas governor.

"Look, I'm 61 years old -- too young for Medicare and too old for women to care," he said in one campaign ad. "But I care about what's happening to Texas."

He has become the latest rage on college campuses and loves nothing more than to hear the political pros say he cannot win.

"Texans are very independent people," he said. "And you tell us what not to do, and we will do it every time."

ABC News political director Mark Halperin said the unlikely candidate is being taken seriously.

"People are sick of Republicans and sick of Democrats," Halperin said. "You give them an alternative -- and an alternative named Kinky -- they are at least going to pay attention."

Friedman slipped in the polls and offended many after referring to African Americans as "negros" and saying some Hurricane Katrina evacuees still living in Texas are "crack heads and thugs."

"People who are black or of color know when something is racist or not," said Lee Alcorn of the Coalition for the Advancement of Civil Rights.

But Friedman contends that he is not a racist.

"I am not a racist at all; I am a realist," he said. "The problem is that 20 percent of the murder rate in Houston is directly attributable to evacuees."

Friedman said he has done his best to be politically incorrect to everyone.

"I am an equal opportunity offender, and I always have been," he said.

Friedman, who is Jewish, calls his band "Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys." Although it is a long shot, they hope to be singing their tune in the governor's mansion.

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