- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DALLAS — Kinky Friedman, the mystery novelist and singer/songwriter running for Texas governor as an independent, has raised three times as much campaign money as the top two Democratic candidates combined.

According to finance records filed yesterday in Austin, former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell and former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage — the main Democratic contenders — have collected $355,000 and $67,000, respectively, in the past six months.

Mr. Friedman is running his first statewide campaign. He reported receiving more than $1.5 million during the July-to-December period.

“I think it speaks volumes how lost the Democratic Party has become in Texas and how dispirited Democrats have become,” said Dean Barkley, Mr. Friedman’s campaign manager. The biggest single cash donation went to Mr. Friedman, who received $250,000 from shampoo manufacturer John McCall of Spicewood, his campaign treasurer.

Mr. Friedman is the author of “Ride ‘em, Jewboy” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed” for his country-rock group called Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. In recent years, he went from writing songs to writing detective novels, featuring a fictional detective called “Kinky Friedman.”

In other filings, Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican running for a second complete term, raised $4.6 million in the final half of 2005. Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the Republican state comptroller who also is running as an independent for governor, has raised $2.4 million.

Mr. Perry’s largest contributor has been Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton of Mineral Wells, who gave $100,000. The largest Strayhorn contributor is lawyer John Eddie Williams, who gave $110,000. Mrs. Strayhorn collected a total of $400,000 from a political action committee and members of a Dallas tax-consulting firm, Ryan & Co.

Jason Stanford, a spokesman for Mr. Bell, said Mr. Friedman would not continue to raise more money than the Democrats. “He’s not running a disciplined campaign,” Mr. Stanford said.

Mr. Friedman’s disclosures reported he had $271,000 remaining. Much of his expenditures, campaign aides said, had been to organize a petition drive to secure a place on the ballot.

“We’ve got our organization built,” Mr. Barkley said, “and we’ve got most of the expenses already paid for the petition drive. We’ve got the money we need to successfully get him on the ballot right now.”

Both Mr. Friedman and Mrs. Strayhorn must collect the signatures of 45,450 registered voters who do not vote in either primary election in March. They must be secured by May 11.

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said to run a “high-profile” governor’s race in Texas would cost about $20 million. More than half that much, he said, would be needed to be “visible.”

“If [the Democrat primary winner] raises $2 million to $3 million, he’ll be swamped,” Mr. Jillson said. “If he raises $7 million to $8 million, he can run a credible campaign. He needs $15 million to slug it out with Perry, and then he’d be outspent by $10 million.”

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