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Kinky Friedman faces runoff election against a 'Trojan horse' in Texas

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No surprise that Kinky Friedman, in his latest run for office in Texas, is attracting a lot of attention, what with his key issue of legalizing marijuana and hemp in his campaign for state commissioner of agriculture—not to mention, of course, his colorful career as a maverick country music artist, murder mystery novelist, cultural essayist and humorist, and social activist.

But Friedman, who is running as a Democrat, is also receiving unusual support from the law enforcement and private investigator communities—and scant assistance from traditional party players--while competing against a shadowy opponent. Having tallied about 185,000 votes in the March 4 primary, he easily turned back party favorite Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III (a bison rancher) with 37.7 percent of the vote to Fitzsimons’ 23.5 percent.

He did so despite a barrage of emails and robocalls opposing Friedman’s candidacy. As Houston Press blogger William Michael Smith put it, he was ignored by the state Democratic establishment “like he was an Al-Qaeda terrorist wearing a bomb coat,” largely because of his pro-pot stance and irreverent and atypical political background.

But Friedman came in second--though in a statistical dead heat--to Jim Hogan, who took in 38.8 percent of the vote. They now face a runoff on May 27, for which Friedman has been busy meeting, greeting and tweeting Texans statewide.

Hogan, however, has done nothing. He didn’t even respond to a Dallas Morning News candidate questionnaire, his sole stated position being that he was not “going to make any big promises."

It turned out that the unknown Hogan, an insurance salesman based in Cleburne, admittedly ran as a Democrat because there were five Republicans running for commissioner. As he told the Texas Observer after the primary, "I can't whup all five of 'em but I might whup one of 'em."

The trouble for Democrats now is that those five Republicans totaled 1,186,000 votes on their side of the primary, against the Democrats’ 490,000. Even if Friedman wins, he’ll have a tough time against the Republican candidate, also to be chosen following a runoff between East Texan Tommy Merritt, and former state rep Sid Miller--who scripted the mandatory sonogram part of Governor Rick Perry's abortion law that led to the spectacular emergence of Wendy Davis as the Democratic nominee to succeed Perry.

But not even Davis has shown any Kinky love.

Wrote Smith, “The common denominator seems to be that none of them wants to risk appearing ‘soft on crime’ by addressing Friedman's campaign or the issue of marijuana and what we're going to do about it in the future.”

Hogan’s success has actually been attributed to his lack of name recognition, that and the fact that his name does suggest “a solid, middle-of-the-road Texan,” wrote Smith. But many suspect that Hogan is really a “Trojan horse” candidate following the lead of Rush Limbaugh’s 2008 Operation Chaos ploy, where Limbaugh asked his Republican following to cross-over and vote for the weakest Democratic primary candidates, forcing the Democrats to waste millions of dollars in fighting each other in the primaries and ensuring Republican victories in the general election.

“He matches the profile of an extreme right-wing Republican,” says one of the private investigators who is backing Friedman--and asked not to be named.

“His voting records show that he voted Republican in every single year from 1998 to the present, except in 2008 when he voted Democratic--likely because of Operation Chaos. He immediately went back to voting Republican in 2010.”

The Friedman supporters found no evidence that Hogan had ever interacted with his local Democratic Party functionaries.

“He didn’t campaign or do interviews or appear in public—just sat at home and got 38 percent of the vote,” says the investigator. “Many of the investigators and cops who like Kinky were at a dinner in San Antonio and agreed that there was no excuse for this. We found out Hogan’s voting record—but he himself says he’s not a Democrat and registered just because he felt it would be a lot easier to win the Democratic primary.”

One would think, he continues, “that cops and investigators would be opposed to Kinky’s position on pot. But a lot of law enforcement doesn’t think he’s wrong, and that an unacceptable amount of resources are wasted on things that aren’t really crimes. A guy smoking a joint should not take a patrol officer out of service for four hours!”

As for Hogan’s activities, the investigator says, “We believe this is a ‘Nixonian dirty tricks’ sort of thing, and it’s a shame. I’m a real Republican, as are most of the investigators and cops who are involved in this. We’re pretty right-wing people, but we’re voting for Kinky in the general election because he’s by far the best candidate. In this election I’m going to be voting Republican, Republican, Republican, Kinky Friedman, Republican, Republican.”

Should Hogan win, he adds, “it will be a disgrace for the State of Texas. It will mean that dirty tricks and a Trojan horse candidate can win a campaign.”

And he minces no words for the Texas Democratic Party.

“They’re ignoring the situation completely,” he says. “Anywhere else in America they’d be holding a press conference saying that the man’s a pretender and infiltrator. But they’re so frightened of Kinky Friedman, who doesn’t toe the party line and who’s a smart, independent voice who cares about Texas. They would rather have Jim Hogan win the primary and then disappear in favor of the Republican candidate.”

The investigator stresses that he and his associates are not coordinating with the Friedman campaign. And he notes that Friedman’s campaign website is TexasforKinky.com and not TexansforKinky—a fraudulent site that redirects visitors to an anti-Friedman article.

[The Examiner wrote the liner notes to the 30th anniversary edition of Kinky Friedman’s classic 1973 album Sold American, and appears as a character in his 1994 novel Armadillos & Old Lace.]

Subscribe to my examiner.com pages, visit my jimbessman.com website and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!

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