It’s the same story we’ve known all along.
Texas Democrats’ dreams of taking over statewide offices surely never envisioned the kind of race they have in the primary runoff for agriculture commissioner where musician and writer Kinky Friedman faces off against a Cleburne farmer who has chosen not to campaign or even raise money.
While Friedman travels the state touting a message of marijuana legalization, cattle farmer and insurance agent Jim Hogan is sticking close to home, relying on news outlets and the Internet to boost his name recognition.
As a result, the race is more likely to leave the Democratic Party with a headache than a realistic opportunity to break a 20-year Republican stranglehold on statewide office.
“One of them’s a dangerous commodity, the other’s a guaranteed dud,” Democratic strategist Jason Stanford said.
The race puts Democrats in the position of having to choose between a quasi-celebrity who some believe sapped votes from the party in the 2006 gubernatorial race and a candidate with minimal name recognition who refuses to campaign or help the party, despite winning the most votes in the March 4 primary.
Despite two decades of Republican dominance, a February letter from Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa urged voters not to overlook the race.
It included an attached letter from state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, who touted Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III, of San Antonio, who, at the time, was the best-funded party favorite for the post.
Van de Putte also made robocalls asking voters to support Fitzsimons over Friedman.
Fitzsimons, however, was eliminated in the primary.
Since then, Democratic Party spokesman Emmanuel Garcia pointed out, Friedman, unlike Hogan, at least has been touring the state and engaging voters.
“It’s encouraging to see somebody taking the campaign seriously and wanting to talk to folks,” Garcia said.
We’ve been over this before. Fitzsimons was my first choice, and he was clearly the best-qualified candidate. Unfortunately, the only thing he’ll do for Texas Democrats this year is serve as yet another lesson that unknown candidates plus few resources equals random results. Be that as it may, at least Friedman is making an effort, and at least he’s articulating some positions that make sense. I don’t blame anyone that might still be carrying a grudge from 2006 and 2010 – it should be noted that Chris Bell has endorsed Kinky, and if there’s anyone with a legitimate grudge to carry, it’s Chris Bell, so if he can bury the hatchet, anyone can – but I’ll be voting for him in the runoff, and hopefully again in November. It’s not the choice I was hoping for at the beginning of the race, but it’s an acceptable choice to me and the best one available. I don’t see any reason to make a big deal out of it.