Kinky Friedman Hearts the Tea Party

Friedman says Tea Party is "what the Democrats used to be."

Cliff Lee wasn’t the only one throwing curve balls last night. (I swear, this material just writes itself!)

 

Next to the Rangers’ win and the rescue of Chilean minors, you might have missed an unusual bit of news from Tuesday night: Kinky Friedman endorsed Libertarian Kathie Glass  for governor, according to The Texas Tribune. Friedman, the sometimes-humorist, sometimes-politician who often references Democrats of yore like Adlai Stevenson, says the Democrats now “come off as a bunch of spineless wimps.” But Glass wasn’t his only endorsement.

 

When I called him Wednesday morning, Friedman told me he’s also supporting Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate running against Senate majority leader Harry Reid—and he’s sees the Tea Party as the most inspiring political movement on the landscape. “When I look at the Tea Party,” he said, “I really think almost that’s what the Democrats used to be.”

 

Friedman himself ran as an independent in the 2006 governor’s race, and received over 12 percent of the vote—much to the consternation of Democrats. His candidacy focused on independent disenchanted voters.

 

The Tea Party rallies have “the kind of spirit that you used to see in the old Democrats where they really stood up for the people,” Friedman said. “The Democrats have come out very foolishly mocking and demonizing the Tea Party.”

 

He noted that he doesn’t agree with Angle on very much but “we already know what Harry Reid is. we already know where he’s got us.” Angle has made news recently for her assertions that some cities in America operate under sharia law; she included Frankford, Texas as one of those cities, despite the fact that Frankford has not existed since the 1970s, when it became part of Dallas.

 

In fact, Friedman wasn’t too concerned with the details of ideology. “Rough edges is what I’m looking for,” he said of his support for Libertarian Glass. ” I don’t really know where she stands on this issue or that issue.”

 

Friedman’s endorsement, however, is only the latest support for Glass. Penny Langford Freeman, a spokeswoman for Debra Medina and former campaign manager on Medina’s bid for the March GOP gubernatorial nomination, told the Texas Independent, “There’s two Democrats in this race: That’s Bill White and Rick Perry… The only conservative is Kathie Glass.”

 

Friedman and Medina both share an outsider’s outrage about the political process and political culture in the state. While Medina herself has not made an endorsement, her own campaign in the March GOP primary centered around harsh criticisms of Perry—who, she argued, was a career politician and the very antithesis of Tea Party values. Medina galvanized a small group of the electorate, and despite little money, managed to get almost 19 percent of the primary vote. It’s not clear how much overlap there is between Medina supporters and Friedman followers, but if Glass can capture the interest of those voters who are both engaged but disenchanted—much as Medina and Friedman did—her candidacy may at least make an impact.

 

Friedman “still has the power of celebrity that subverts the political paradigm in Texas,” says Jason Stanford, the Democratic consultant who oversaw Democrat Chris Bell’s race in 2006 against both Friedman and Perry. “He might be able to create a little juice for her.”

 

That’s what Glass is hoping, anyways.

 

“Even if we don’t win, then I think we’ve done a good job to pave the way for other Libertarians going forward,” she said. “The Libertarians are going to be factor in all high profile races from here on out.”

 

Not that people from either major party seem threatened.

 

“To say that Glass is a plausible candidate is to deny the fact that I don’t even know what her first name is,” Stanford pronounces.

 

GOP consultant Jordan Berry echoes the same sentiments. “You have a nut backing another nut,” he said. “I guess only a few nuts will care.”

 

Berry knows something about Tea Party voters—he’s helped oversee several Tea Party races across the state, including Charles Perry, the Tea Party-er who swooped in to best longtime incumbent Delwin Jones. He says the vast majority of the movement will ultimately go with Perry. “It doesn’t mean they’re happy with everything Rick Perry has done,” he said.

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Published at 7:11 pm CST
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