A friend of mine writes for a newspaper in north Texas, the Wise County Messenger. She asked me for my thoughts about Kinky Friedman's announcement that he plans to run for Governor. My response follows.
I've been thinking about this for a few days now.
I've already called it for Kay Bailey Hutchison if she decides to run against Rick Perry on the GOP side, although I think it'll be a squeaker. Perry will browbeat Hutchison with abortion and Perry isn't well-liked to begin with, so that'll be a total bloodbath.
Former Rep Chris Bell has decided to run (or at least, that's what I hear), and he had a strong following before he was assassinated by redistricting and I don't think Turner will be a challenge in the Democratic primary.
Unless Martin Frost decides to run for the Democrats, which he won't, it'll be Kay Bailey Hutchison, Chris Bell, and Kinky Friedman. If Kinky could get signatures at any time and use those to get on the ballot, I think he'd have a shot at wrecking the field and, if the fight between Hutchison and Perry gets nasty enough, I think he may even have a chance at winning. Certainly, voting for gimmick candidates for Governor is in vogue these days.
However, I think Kinky's chances at actually winning will be destroyed by logistics. In order for him to get on the ballot, he has to collect signatures of people who DIDN'T vote in the primaries. If a voter votes in either the Republican or Democratic primary, their signature on the petition won't count. He'll need an excellent street team organization to disseminate his information and turn his run legitimate. If he doesn't have a strong organization already, his campaign will stall early and die.
The difficulty for an independant is that the really good foot soldiers in politics - the staff, the volunteers, the street teams, phone bankers, pollsters, etc - are strong party identifiers. He will be hard pressed to find veterans to add to his staff and volunteer corps as an independant.
Party identification also often means money, and I expect the Texas governors race to cost well into the millions.
So, to sum up - if he can build a good organization full of people who are not only good at what they do in politics but are also experienced, he has a good shot. If he doesn't already have most of his staff in line, he's toast.