Politics

Kinky Friedman: The Anti-Toll Road, Pro-Gambling and Pot Candidate Takes Another Stab at the Governor's Mansion

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Three "unabashed champions of justice" according to Friedman -- Abel Dominguez (a Friedman campaign advisor and lawyer), Richard "Racehorse" Haynes (a prominent criminal defense attorney) and Jeff Blackburn (head of the Texas Innocence Project) -- have agreed to help him create the Timothy Cole Commission should he become governor. Cole was convinced of rape in 1986 and sentenced to 25 years in prison but maintained his innocence. Jerry Johnson confessed to the crime to authorities in 1995, but there was no investigation until Johnson sent a letter to Cole's family in 2007.

"For 12 years, they never listened to the guilty man or the innocent man, even though they were saying the same thing," Friedman says. "The system chews up black and brown people that don't have representation and puts them away like they did Timothy Cole."

Cole died of an asthma attack in 1999 while in prison, but he was posthumously exonerated by a state judge in February of this year after DNA evidence cleared his name. The commission would establish guilt or innocence in honor of Cole and require DNA tests of all Texas inmates on death row.

"When you have a guy who's as entrenched as Rick Perry is, he's gonna fight on the side of the state to keep the Innocence Project or anyone else from DNA or a dead body because he thinks it's stirring up trouble," Friedman says.

While he says legalizing and taxing marijuana is the "common sense approach" to dealing with the issue, Friedman instead promotes decriminalizing the drug, claiming law enforcement agrees that it's a waste of time to lock up pot smokers. Most people would misunderstand a legalization and taxation stance, he says, "But it's coming, just like getting rid of the death penalty is coming."

Although President Barack Obama has rallied the GOP in recent months, Friedman says he'll be an asset for him in the gubernatorial election. "There's no question that Obama has shown us that excitement equals turnout, and if you can excite the grassroots and get people involved, that's all to the good."

He says it's too soon to evaluate Obama's performance. "Some things have been good. Some haven't. He's got great inspirational chops."

And what about the president's controversial health care bill? "I think what he's saying about health care reform is mostly correct, and then when you listen to the other side, they're mostly correct too," Friedman says. "That's the problem. It's really complex stuff. All I've said is whatever they come up with will be better than the Bush health policy, which was: Don't get sick."

Friedman says he hasn't spoken to former President George W. Bush, who he calls a friend, in several years, but stresses that he loves Bush's wife Laura, who he speculates is a Democrat and claims would have made a great president.

"She's a librarian for God's sake," he says. "You can't go wrong."

Friedman begins a European tour September 22, which wraps up October 5 in France. "It's called making a living," he says. "They're sending me out of the state because they think my chances look so good for winning the primary that they don't want me to screw it up."

In addition to singing, he'll be promoting his new book, Heroes of a Texas Childhood. "When I'm governor, that will be mandatory reading in school because I'm shocked at the number of college graduates that have never heard of Audie Murphy or Barbara Jordan," he says. "If you really want to know who I am, find out who my heroes are."

Friedman stresses that "revolutions aren't free" and directs all supporters to make donations through his Web site and become members of his Facebook page.

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten

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