Kinky love

Friedman for Governor? Why the hell not?

 Kinky love: He ain't governor--yet--but that doesn't stop a certain Texas Jewboy from leaving voice mail messages in which he identifies himself as "Governor Friedman." Then again, maybe Richard "Kinky" Friedman ain't that off-base: On Tuesday, Zogby International released the results of its "Battleground '06" survey and revealed that among likely voters in next year's Texas gubernatorial race, Friedman's quite the popular li'l independent. According to Zogby, Republican Governor Rick Perry's receiving support from 41.9 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans surveyed. In second is little known Democratic candidate Chris Bell, who pulls in 24.8 percent. Despite Friedman's third-place finish, his numbers are relatively staggering: If the election were held tomorrow, 21 percent of those polled claim they would vote for Friedman, most likely while citing his campaign slogan, "Why the hell not?"

According to Dean Barkley, the former Minnesota senator who ran Jesse Ventura's successful gubernatorial campaign in that state, the ex-wrestler didn't receive numbers anywhere near that high, at least until a week before the election. And, the Zogby poll takes into account only those who voted in the last election, which leaves some 71 percent of the Texas electorate up for grabs.

"I am stunned, especially knowing that it's likely voters," says Friedman. "That leaves all the unlikely voters, which is our basic support. It's extremely exciting. It's the real deal."

Friedman, profiled in these pages June 30 ("Seriously Kinky"), said back then he would have been happy with 7 or 8 percentage points, about what Ventura had this far from Election Day. And though he's elated by the quick start to an election where he's not even on the ballot--he has to wait till after the primary and then garner some 50,000 signatures on a petition before he can officially become a candidate--there's still the issue of money. Friedman figures he needs some $5 to $6 million to be considered a serious candidate. "And we aren't even close," he says.

But this don't hurt, especially coming the very week CMT sneaks a peek at the very funny pilot of Go Kinky, an in-the-works series that chronicles the campaign. The show, with a smart-ass cameo by Dwight Yoakam and what appears to be a very stoned Willie Nelson, airs Wednesday.

"We're hanging in like a hair in a biscuit," Friedman says.

 
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