by Kelley Shannon
Humorist and author Kinky Friedman says he’s running for governor again, this time as a Democrat.
Friedman, in an interview with The Associated Press on the eve of his formal announcement, described himself as a “true populist.” He said he’s offering Democrats a new, winning model, noting that the last Democrat to hold the Texas governorship was Ann Richards in the early 1990s.
Friedman planned to make his announcement official in a series of interviews Tuesday, but described his plans to the AP on Monday.
He said he wants to give teachers a $3,000 across-the-board pay raise and get rid of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills standardized testing for public school students. He said there are too many toll roads in Texas and that he would prefer to pay for roads with tax revenue from legalized casinos in certain parts of the state, such as Galveston.
Friedman said he’s planning a fundraiser with Willie Nelson later this month and that he hopes to raise money from thousands of supporters online, like he did when he ran as an independent in 2006. That year Republican Rick Perry won, and Friedman was fourth.
“It’s really time for Texas to secede from Rick Perry,” Friedman said.
Others in the Democratic primary field are former ambassador Tom Schieffer, former agriculture commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert and therapist Mark Thompson.
On the Republican side, heavyweights Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison are squaring off. Party activist Debra Medina also is in the race.
“I look around and I think, I’m the only true man of the people in the race,” Friedman said. “I’m offering the Democrats a new model and it’s to run on ideas, not on demographics.”
Friedman said the last time he ran for governor he got more than 70,000 individual contributions on his Web site.
Friedman, a musician known for such songs as “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” has concentrated mostly on writing in recent years.
Though he sounded more serious than when he embarked on his candidacy of 2006, Friedman did crack a few one-liners and said he won’t stop himself from using humor this election season.
“I’m going to be Kinky,” he said.