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“You've got to find what you love and let it kill you,” a farewell to Kinky Friedman

Updated: Jun 27


photo of Kinky Friedman in Bastrop, 2006
Kinky Friedman in Bastrop, TX 2006. © 2006 Larry D. Moore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Kinky Friedman’s death today at age 79 is well-covered in the Texas Tribune and on Kinky’s Wikipedia page. LIV sends its condolences to Kinky’s huge network of family, friends, and fans who love him dearly.

 

I met Kinky in 2005, in the runup to his independent bid for Texas Governor. I met with Kinky at his ranch in Medina. It was his love and care for dogs that made plain what a sweet guy he was, that Kinky Friedman.

I know that all dogs are beautiful on the inside, but at the risk of offending any fellow dog worshippers, Kinky had maybe 8 or 10 outwardly beauty-challenged dogs living in his cabin! He took us out to meet the 60 dogs in his lovely dog-centric rescue facility. Kinky named his dogs after famous people. He was very clever at pawning them off on others. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Reba McEntire and to take her home to Bastrop.



picture taken of Cardenas, Curtis & Kinky, 2005
Gerardo Cardenas, Linda Curtis and "the Kingster" 2005

I came to meet with Kinky, along with Gerardo Cardenas, then treasurer of Independent Texans PAC. I was an emissary for the Carole Strayhorn gubernatorial campaign. Carole, the Republican State Comptroller, had planned to run for Governor in the Republican primary against Rick Perry. One of her signature issues was the Trans-Texas Corridor, aka the “NAFTA Highway” opposed by a broad array of groups, including the Independent Texans PAC. Kinky had already declared his independent candidacy, but I came to warn him that Carole was considering skipping the primary and running as an independent.

 

photo of Dean Barkley
Dean Barkley, Minnesota mastermind independent

I helped bring the two campaign managers together; Carole’s son, Brad McClellan, and Kinky’s seasoned and whip-smart independent consultant, Dean Barkley from Minnesota. Barkley played a major role in the successful gubernatorial election of Jesse Ventura in 1998 on the Reform Party line. We knew each other having gone through the four years of exhilarating success and then heart-breaking failure of the Reform Party USA. We never regretted a moment and yes, it almost killed the independent movement and me too.

 

What I Never Said Before We Can Learn From

 

It was my feeling that Kinky was not treated with adequate care by the Strayhorn campaign. I think they assumed Kinky might get a few percentage points. I wasn’t sure of that at all. Instead, Carole and Kinky damn near equally split the independent vote. Strayhorn, who had $8 million in her campaign coffers, wound up with 18%. Kinky received 12.6%.

Their combined votes would have put one of them in second place at 32%. Rick Perry won with 39% and Chris Bell, the Democratic candidate, received 29.8%. I feel the same today as I did then that had Carole met directly with Kinky and asked him before the filing deadline to move to the Lt. Governor’s race, Carole Strayhorn would have beat Rick Perry as an independent in 2006. Instead, pride stopped her from giving Kinky the respect he deserved and we all lost.

On a separate note, I want to give homage to all the people who backed Kinky in his campaign, including the brilliant Barkley, who I still talk to from time to time. They ran one helluva campaign, especially their petition drive. They got their signatures spending ¼ of what the Strayhorn campaign spent by mobilizing volunteers. I believe it was this creative (and fun) work that explains how well Kinky did. Candidates running independently invariably fail to mobilize their most important asset – their following. (Hint: RFK, Jr. could well be learning this lesson the hard way today.)

 

picture of Linda Curtis with Reba McEntire, a Kinky Friedman dog
Reba McEntire, aka "Rebadoo" with Linda Curtis, 2006. She had been lost for 2 days in Ft. Worth. We didn't tell Kinky.

Happy Trails and farewell to Kinky Friedman from all who loved him, including hundreds of four-legged friends like our Reba-doo.

_____________________

Note: Please feel free to share your Kinky Friedman stories in our comment section. And, please, after a good cry, consider a way to remember Kinky is to get involved in the independent movement in your community. LIV is ready, willing, and able to help.

We also regret the passing of Ms. Edee Baggett of National Ballot Access, one of America's leading ballot access petition companies.


Linda is also mourning the passage of a personal friend, Barry Levine, who played an important role in the early days of the independent political movement that put Lenora Fulani on the ballot in all 50 states in 1988.

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4 Comments


Guest
Jul 01

It was very disappointing that at such a fortunate time to have two candidates with the possibility of running as independents, they did not agree to join forces and that only one of them stood up to Perry with a good chance of defeating him. They were too “independent”, they both lost and with them the Independent Movement. I felt frustrated, losing that opportunity made me wonder if the independent movement has any future. 18 years have passed and that opportunity has not presented itself again.

On the other hand, it is possible that the history of our state would be very different now if the governorship had been achieved.

With so many frustrated with both games. I think it…

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Guest
Jul 02
Replying to

Thank you, Gerardo Cardenas, former Treasurer of Independent Texans PAC. I think what you are raising is important and we hope to write about this real soon. Abrazos, Gerardo!

Linda Curtis

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Guest
Jun 28

Kinky didn't fit into any categories. And that made him a perfect fit for Texas!


And thusly, a perfect place in the history of Texas politics, too.

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