Sunday, August 20, 2006
Friedman Says Willie Nelson Should Lead State Energy Efforts
UPDATE: 8/18/2006 4:36:09 FORT WORTH, Texas
(AP) - Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman on Friday reiterated his top pick to implement his energy plan that emphasizes renewable sources: Willie Nelson. Friedman said the country singer/songwriter and benefactor of biodiesel was a natural choice to lead a state energy department or commission, which he wants to create. He also said Nelson "would never have his hand in Texas' pocket." "My plan is to appoint the best people I can find, get out of the way and let them work ... people whose only agenda is to do the right thing for the people of Texas," Friedman told the Fort Worth Rotary Club. "... I really believe that musicians can better run this state than politicians." A Texas biodiesel supplier partnered with Nelson to develop the BioWillie brand of the clean-burning fuel for truckers. It is made from used vegetable oils or soybeans and is blended with diesel, and does not require modification to diesel engines. Nelson is on the board of directors of Dallas-based Earth Biofuels, which produces biodiesel and is the exclusive distributor of Nelson's signature brand of biodiesel. Nelson did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday. Friedman, who unveiled his energy plan Thursday, said he plans to have 35,000 school buses running on biodiesel fuel, as well as his own vehicle. He said as it catches on, some 7 percent or 8 percent of Texans will be trying biodiesel, resulting in lower prices at gas stations because of supply and demand. "What you're going to see is Texas finally leading the way instead of following behind all the time, being first in something besides executions, toll roads and property taxes," he said. The other gubernatorial candidates running Nov. 7 are Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell, independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the state comptroller, and Libertarian James Werner. Friedman said Perry, Bell and Strayhorn have a combined 89 years of political experience among them. "I think politics is the only field in which the more experience you have, the worse you get," Friedman told the crowd of about 300, which roared with laughter throughout his speech. "So I think it's time we had a non-politician as governor."
And just think about this....This Kinky person may steal enough votes to allow the Republicans to keep the Governor's Mansion.
Terry D. Barhorst
Months ago, with the hope of defeating Perry, I made time to meet Strayhorn, Bell, and Kinky personally at campaign stops, and I tried to select which candidate to support based on two criteria: (1) who would best support my values on issues important to me and (2) who would have the best chance of beating Perry.
While evaluating the candidates on the issues, one fact became apparent. It was somewhat difficult to ascertain where Strayhorn stands on the issues because her positions on many issues have changed over the past few years and because her website isn't particularly issue oriented. It was comparatively easy to determine where Bell stands on many issues as a result of his tenure on the Houston City Counsel and as a Congressional Representative and because Bell's website has a good deal of information on various issues. It was most difficult to ascertain where Kinky stands on the issues because his positions have not been constant on many key issues and because Kinky generally gives either very general answers or jokes when asked serious policy questions. Early in the campaign, Kinky suggested that he wouldn't be trapped into taking stands on issues, but as his campaign has progressed, Kinky has answered more questions (but his positions still waiver back and forth with the wind on many issues).
Here is what I have learned about the three candidates' stands on issues:
Strayhorn supports a $4,000 teacher raise, reducing reliance on TAKS (formerly advocated larger role for TAKS), opposing private school vouchers (formerly supported), opposing college tuition deregulation (formerly supported) (and has endorsement of TSTA and TFT).
Bell supports a $6,000 teacher raise, reducing reliance on TAKS, adopting career technology training programs vetoed by Perry, opposing private school vouchers, limiting State Board of Education censorship of textbooks, eliminating tax on textbooks, opposing college tuition deregulation, expanding Texas Grant program for low-income Texas students with academic achievements who seek a college education they couldn't otherwise afford.
Kinky supports a teacher raise (no amount specified), reducing reliance on TAKS, funding public schools by legalizing casino gambling, allowing corporate sponsorship of public school physical education programs.
Strayhorn favors restoring full collection of federal CHIP funds for underinsured Texas children (formerly advocated cuts in CHIP).
Bell favors allowing drug prescription to be filled from Canadian, expanding prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients without limitations imposed under current law, expanding stem cell research, restoring full collection of federal CHIP funds for underinsured Texas children.
Kinky favors expanding stem cell research, restoring full collection of federal CHIP funds for underinsured Texas children.
Strayhorn opposes (formerly supported).
No position from Strayhorn.
Bell favors state funding for premiums on $250,000 federal life insurance policies for Texas National Guard soldiers serving in combat (rated 100% by SANE, indicating a pro-peace voting record).
Kinky support Bush's foreign policy in the Middle East.
No position from Strayhorn.
Bell favors increasing minimum wage (and has AFL-CIO endorsement).
No position from Kinky.
Strayhorn favors promoting coal gasification alternative technology, restricting coal burning, improving Texas Commission on Environmental Quality enforcement
Bell favors reducing CO2 emissions by 80%, lowering mercury emissions from coal plants by 90%, improving Texas Commission on Environmental Quality enforcement, promoting coal gasification alternative technology, restricting coal burning, tightening regulation of air permits for plants and refineries, raising the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard to 10%, ending "grandfather" immunity from municipal regulations that protect the health and property of those near refineries, opposing acceleration of forest thinning projects, converting the state vehicles to green vehicles, providing incentives for green builders.
Kinky favors promoting wind, solar, and biofuels as alternative energy sources.
No position from Strayhorn.
Bell opposes insurance rate hikes, supports task force to instigate insurance rate rollbacks, supports audit of Texas Residential Construction Commission.
No position from Kinky.
Strayhorn supports use of National Guard troops on US-Mexico border, opposes in-state tuition to Texas-born children of illegal immigrants.
Bell supports the McCain-Kennedy bill with pathway to citizenship, use of National Guard troops on US-Mexico border, opposes law requiring that illegal aliens who seek hospital treatment be reported to INS (rated 0% by anti-immigration organization, indicating a progressive voting record on immigration).
Kinky supports building a border fence, supports the McCain-Kennedy bill with pathway to citizenship (formerly supported House bill which did not include pathway to citizenship), says "my immigration policy is `Remember the Alamo'" (formerly supported hiring Mexican generals to enforce border).
Strayhorn supports maintaining legal right to abortion.
Bell supports maintaining legal right to abortion, repealing law requiring doctors to misinform women seeking reproductive counseling of false link between abortion and cancer, requiring that abortion laws must include exception to protect mother's health (rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record).
Kinky supports maintaining legal right to abortion.
Strayhorn opposes right to civil unions.
Bell supports right to civil unions, co-sponsored the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.
Kinky supports right to civil unions.
Neither of these candidates reflects my own views of these issues perfectly, and I disagree with some portion of each candidate's positions. Measuring Strayhorn's current views against my own, she would be a very distinct improvement over Perry, but I am troubled by the number of significant issues on which she has substantially changed her position. Of the three candidates, Bell has the most detailed positions and his views on these issues are generally nearest my own. Finally, as compared to the other two candidates, Kinky's views on these issues conflict most with my own views, and Kinky is the least specific of the three candidates. Also, Kinky's views conflict with mine on other issues which are important but I have not listed them above among my highest priorities (like the separation of church and state, for example).
Moreover, when researching these issues, it became apparent that Kinky hasn't merely changed his mind on certain issues (like Strayhorn has); Kinky has been dishonest or two-faced about some matters. For example, Kinky has been dishonest about his prior votes in the 2000 election and the Texas constitutional amendment. In contrast to Strayhorn, who now advocates in favor of issues she used to oppose, Kinky appears to simultaneously advocate different positions to different groups on issues like capital punishment, immigration, and reproductive rights.
Also, when researching Kinky's statements on different issues, one cannot help but come across statements like (1) after losing an election where Kinky ran as a Republican, he said he was leaving "that worthless tar baby that is politics," (2) and said we should punish criminals by sending them to prison and making them "listen to a Negro talking to himself" and "Negro ... is a charming word," (3) and "I've been stoned a lot of times ... and I don't regret any of it ... I quit doing cocaine when Bob Marley fell out of my left nostril," (4) and "all of these politicians are afraid of offending Hispanics," and (5) the Tejano protesters marching in favor of immigration reform were "half playing hooky."
After determining that Kinky's views and his past statements poorly reflect the type of gubernatorial candidate I hope to support, I also considered which candidate is most and least likely to beat Perry.
Strayhorn presents a unique threat to Perry's re-election. When Perry and Strayhorn last ran for office, they appeared on the ballot together. Strayhorn, not Perry, was the top vote recipient among all Republicans (she also received the most votes of any candidate for any office regardless of party affiliation). Strayhorn captured 2,878,732 votes compared to Perry's mere 2,632,591. Not only does Strayhorn have proven appeal among Republican voters, she has some support from those who typically support Democrats, including the endorsement of the TSTA and the TFT as well as support from prominent Hispanic Democrats such as Tony Sanchez, Perry's last Democratic opponent.
In addition to these factors, Strayhorn has raised over $10 million to fund her campaign, and the majority of those funds will be spent on comparative advertising directed against Perry's abysmal record as governor. While Strayhorn's support in the polls has been erratic and the trend has generally been downward, she has the campaign funds on hand to mount a substantial television advertising campaign to address that trend.
Bell also threatens Perry. Several recent polls have identified Perry's current level of support at 35% with a continuing significant downward trend. This would be disastrous for an incumbent in most situations, but Perry is less threatened because the 65% of the vote which is currently "not Perry" is divided among three significant alternative candidates (plus Libertarian James Werner whose support is negligible). Of all the candidates, Bell's support is most consistently trending upward (most recent polls have identified Bell's current levels of support between 18% and 21% and raising).
There are two historical voting trends which strongly indicate that the upward trend of Bell's support will continue to even higher levels.
First, Perry, Strayhorn, and Kinky have very well established name identification among Texas voters. Bell, on the other hand, is identified by less than half of likely Texas voters. We know from previous elections, once a candidate achieves a very significant level of name identification with a likely voter without achieving that likely voter's support, it becomes substantially more difficult for the known candidate to win that voter's support. The fact that Bell has the most room to increase his name identification indicates that he also has the easiest task of building his support. Moreover, we also know from past elections that Bell's name identification will rise as the election nears as a result of the fact that Bell is the nominee of a major party. Among likely Texas voters who can identify the names of all four main candidates, Bell is polling at 28% to Perry's 32%, which is barely outside the margin for error.
Second, Bell (and Perry) will receive a boost from straight-party voting which polls undercount (people answering polls generally deny voting the straight-party ticket but past elections confirm that about half of Texas voters choose a straight-party ticket in a statewide election during a non-presidential year). In recent non-presidential elections, about 23% of the Texas electorate has voted for the straight-party Democratic ticket (and about 28% have voted the straight-party Republican ticket). Moreover, in recent past elections where the Democratic candidate has accepted the party's nomination but essentially chose not to campaign, those types of statewide Democratic candidates have nevertheless received about one third of the vote (despite the fact that pre-election polling consistently identified levels of support much lower than 33% of the Texas electorate for such non-campaigning Democrats). When statewide Democrats mount a campaign, they generally receive about 43% of the vote during non-presidential elections. Undoubtedly, if Bell could achieve Democratic Party unity, he would easily win, but Strayhorn and Kinky will certainly disrupt the party unity for both Democrats and Republicans.
Kinky is a unique candidate. Kinky's support has polled between 11% and 22% in polls that were conducted contemporaneously so his levels of support are obviously difficult to measure and highly dependant on the poll's method for identifying likely voters. But the prospect for Kinky's rise in the polls is not good. Of all the major candidates, Kinky has by far the highest disapproval numbers. Moreover, Kinky has very high name identification so his task of winning new supporters will be very difficult.
Kinky's campaign looks to Arnold Schwarzenegger's and Jesse Ventura's campaigns as models, but those campaigns are substantially different from Kinky's campaign.
Schwarzenegger's campaign differs from Kinky's mainly in the fact that Schwarzenegger enjoyed the strong backing of the Republican Party as that party's candidate (the California Republican Party and its prominent figures endorsed Schwarzenegger, including several other potential Republican candidates who dropped out of the race to avoid dividing the Republican vote). Interestingly, Schwarzenegger's campaign demonstrates how a minority party (whether Republicans in California or Democrats in Texas) can win a plurality election against a much stronger party (Democrats in California or Republicans in Texas) with strong party unity. Because the multi-party Texas gubernatorial race will be determined by a plurality (the eventual winner will likely garner only 33% to 38% of the vote) just as the recent California election, Schwarzenegger's model for minority-party triumph is more of a model for Bell's campaign than Kinky's campaign.
Ventura's campaign differs from Kinky's mainly in the differences between the manner in which Ventura achieved a third-party coalition and in the differences between Minnesota and Texas election law.
Like Schwarzenegger's Republican Party support, Ventura had the organized campaign support of the Reform Party (Ventura was the Reform Party's nominee, not an independent candidate) which was by far the most significant third party in Minnesota with a substantial party infrastructure and network of campaign workers. Moreover, Ventura won the support of the Libertarian Party and others who value the separation of church and state when he famously said that "organized religion tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business" and whereas Kinky has alienated that group by advocating prayer in school and posting the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. Ventura won with 37% of the vote by running under a coherent platform as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal in a state with about one third Republicans, one third Democrats, and a full third of the electorate as Reform Party members or other Independents. In contrast, Kinky's platform is not coherent (socially liberal on gay marriage and legalized casino gambling to alienate social conservatives, but socially conservative on immigration and school prayer to alienate social liberals), and Texas is more like 50% Republican, 35% Democrat, with only 15% independent. Also, Minnesota's minority vote is much smaller than the minority vote in Texas, and Kinky has irreparably handicapped his candidacy among likely minority voters with Kinky's comments about "Negroes" and "tar babies" and politicians being "afraid of offending Hispanics" and saying the Tejano immigration protesters were "playing hooky." It is no wonder polls show Kinky with the least minority voter support of the candidates, and this problem with Kinky's campaign cannot be fixed.
Yet perhaps the more important distinction between Ventura's campaign and Kinky's is the election law differences. An Independent candidate's chances of success are much greater in Minnesota due to Minnesota's law allowing for voter registration at the voting booth on election day and Minnesota's public financing for state elections (which would minimize Kinky's current status as the candidate with the least funds on hand).
In light of these factors, the conventional wisdom of professional election analysts from Kinky's friend and "Texas Monthly" colleague Paul Burka, to Republican poll guru Mike Baselice, to the progressive Lone Star Project, to independent analyst Chuck McDonald all agree that Kinky will likely end up in the single digits on election day (and if he doesn't, Perry will likely win by default).
Just as my analysis of the candidates' positions on the issues led me to rank Kinky last among the candidates running against Perry, my analysis of the candidates' chances of beating Perry also leads me to rank Kinky last among the candidates.
In light of these views, I am trying to broadcast information about Kinky which may (or may not) cause other voters to reach the same conclusion that I have reached. Specifically, I have concluded that the anti-incumbent vote is very large, but it is not so large that it can be split by three alternative candidates who each attract a 15% to 25% following at the polls. As a result, I think Perry will likely be re-elected with significantly less than 40% of the vote unless one of the candidate's support drops into the single digits. I hope offering the fact-based reasons for my rejection of Kinky's candidacy may further that possibility (or maybe it won't, but I will not see Perry re-elected while I stand idly by).
Vote for Strayhorn or Bell depending on who stands a better chance of beating Perry on election day.
Now that I've found it, I hope its alright for me to copy and paste it over to Lone_Star_Democrat.
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