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FLASHBACK: Kinky: Politics is for yokels - Odessa American: Celinda Hawkins

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FLASHBACK: Kinky: Politics is for yokels

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Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014 7:45 am

In the words of author, humorist, musician, cigar purveyor, tequila seller and Ag commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman, “politics is for yokels.”

Mind you that is not a disparaging remark on locals or our local races, but it is in fact true.

And we have some pretty hot races on the ballot Tuesday. And this is an election when we elect the folks who represent us, both in Washington, Austin and in Ector County. Remember to vote on Tuesday.

But Kinky himself is running in a pretty hotly contested race — this time as a Democrat. In 2006, he ran as an independent for governor and placed fourth in a six-way race. In 2010, he threw his cowboy hat in the ring for Ag Commissioner but lost the Democratic nomination.

This will be Kinky’s third attempt getting a seat in the state capital and he is not blowing cigar smoke this time. And for us reporter types, he provides, well, a wee bit of entertainment, albeit levity, on the political landscape.

But mark my words, he’s serious. On his website, TexasforKinky.com, his platform is spelled out clearly: 

“I’m running for Agriculture Commissioner of Texas in the March 4th Democratic Primary in an effort to bring courage, imagination, and common sense back to politics. I’m running as an old-time Harry Truman blue dog Democrat. I’m running to try to give young people in Texas someone in politics they can look up to. Last, but certainly not least, I’m running to end the prohibition on pot and hemp in the great state of Texas.”

His platform genuinely scares the hell out of most folks, but he doesn’t care. He maintains it will be the economic shot in the arm Texas needs to fund education and a slew of other things.

“There would be no culture without agriculture. It is the green thread that runs through all our lives. As we have seen in Colorado and Washington State, legalizing, taxing, and cultivating pot can be the economic engine to fund education, not just talk about it, so perhaps we would no longer rank 50th in the country in high school graduation rates. Legalizing pot will lower property taxes as well as reducing other state and local taxes. It will also effectively spay and neuter the Mexican drug cartels; the people of Texas will become the new cartel. I have yet to meet a law enforcement officer in Texas who does not believe we are losing the war on drugs.”

Not so fast, Kinky — those states are “testing the waters.” There are problems with states where there has been legalization. But the higher-ups are studying the situation to be sure, but the verdict is not in — yet.

His opponents have not jumped on the bandwagon, and have thwarted attempts by reporters to see if they’ll go there, too.

“I’m interested in grass, but it’s not that kind,” Hugh Fitzsimons, a Democratic contender who raises grass-fed bison in Carrizo Springs, told The New York Times. “To me, we have some serious, serious problems, and it’s primarily centered around water.”

Jim Hogan, a Cleburne farmer, responded similarly.

“I don’t smoke it,” he told the NYT.  “I don’t have anything to do with it. That’s the last I want to talk about it. I want to talk about raising cattle, trees, goats, tomatoes and peppers.”

Legalization is not his only cause, he’s promoting water conservation, cultivation desalination.

But it is his main issue, and he’s serious.

“I ask myself every day the question, ‘Is it good for Texas?’” Friedman was quoted in the NYT piece. “Would a guy like me being elected agriculture commissioner be good for Texas? Would it stir things up? Why is it that only at gunpoint will the candidates discuss legalization of marijuana and hemp when clearly it is exploding across the world?”

Well, Kinky will be driving through Odessa perhaps from a campaign appearance in El Paso. Tonight, he’s slated to appear, cigar and all at 7 p.m. the Big Spring Farmers meeting at 219 S. Main St.

And, if elected, he says, “It’s a dirty job, and I get to do it.”

And if he’s not elected, well you can go see him in Kerrville on April 13 at the Cailloux Theater with Billy Joe Shaver and Asleep at the Wheel.

And maybe he’ll sign a few of his books after playing a few tunes.

And here’s how he signed my copy of “Kinky Friedman’s Guide to Texas Etiquette:

“Why the hell not!”

Kinky Friedman, 10-15-13.

Odessa, TX

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