Wednesday, March 29, 2006

“We’re proud of Texas, Mr. Perry, we just don’t like what you’re doing with it.”

Strayhorn, Friedman and Bell make case against Perry


The Lone Star Report
Copyright 2006

The two independent candidates for governor and their Democratic counterpart came together Friday night for a candidate forum at a rural meeting hall outside of Temple. Kinky Friedman, Carole Keeton Strayhorn mixed talk about taxes, tolls and education with barbed comments aimed at Governor Rick Perry and what they all said was ineffective leadership.

Although Perry was not represented at the forum, he defends the Trans Texas Corridor - and its tolled portions - as the best way to meet the state’s transportation needs quickly, and has challenged his detractors to come up with a plan of their own to meet that need.

Friday night’s event was held by the Blacklands Coalition, a strongly anti-toll road, anti Trans-Texas Corridor group, mostly made up of farmers. Although a place was reserved at the table for Perry as well as his opponents, no one in the crowd expected him to attend. Instead, after booing the Trans Texas Corridor and raising funds to start a new political action committee to oppose it, the crowd of over 200 heard speeches from Perry’s opponents.

The following are some of the highlights:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn took aim at Perry exclusively and did not make substantive mention of the other two candidates. Some quotes from her speech.

“My honest and passionate disagreement with Rick Perry have been the cornerstone of the debate for the last two years.”

“It’s time to put Texas above politics and it’s time to put partisan politics aside.”

“In the last two years, Rick Perry’s corporate welfare slush fund is up.”

“Now is th time for Texans to take back Texas…and blast the Trans Texas Corridor off the bureaucratic books.”

Noting that a constitutional amendment to stop eminent domain was not passed (a statutory bill was), the comptroller stated, “In a Strayhorn administration, we will have a constitutional amendment protecting private property rights period.”

“Rick Perry wants his legacy to be that he sat in the governor’s chair for more years than anyone else. Well, I don’t sit – I do.”

On stronger penalties for Sexual Predators: “My administration will act…As governor, I will throw the sexual predators in and throw away the keys.”

Kinky Friedman mixed humor and policy, sometimes leaving in doubt which was which. He took aim at Perry, but also at the political establishment in general, referring to Republicans and Democrats as “crips and bloods” who have “put Texas on Ebay.” Some of Friedman’s other comments:

“I’m the only candidate running with no political experience. But I have a lot of human experience.”

“I support gay marriage because I believe gay people have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us…And I’m the only candidate who supports both gay marriage and prayer in schools.”

On the Trans Texas Corridor: “It’s a bad idea. It’s like Dubai running the ports.”

On Education: “We’re at the bottom…I’d dearly like for Texas to be first in something other than executions, toll roads and property tax.”

Friedman’s solution? Gambling: “We invented Texas Hold-em, and we can’t even play it here…Legalizing casino gambling will pay for education – not just a bandaid, it will pay for it.”
“The first thing I would do as governor is get rid of the TAKS test.” – Friedman received his best applause of the night for this line, then added, “The kids today don’t know if the Civil War was here or in Europe because it’s not on the test.”

“My policy is no teacher left behind, and in order to do that, we need to leave one governor behind.”

On border protection, Friedman suggested what he calls the “Five Mexican General Plan.” The plan would be to put $1 million in a bank account and hire five Mexican generals to patrol sectors of the Texas border. For each immigrant that comes across, the state would deduct $5,000 from the account.

On Rick Perry: “To know what Rick Perry stands for, follow the money – from the homebuilders to Perry and from the insurance companies to Perry.”

Democrat Chris Bell released a fiery press release today attacking Strayhorn, noting that many of the principles in the Trans Texas Corridor plan were originally ideas from her own E-Texas plan. Nonetheless, Bell – despite having a strongly anti-toll group to speak before – never brought up Strayhorn at all in his comments. Some of his statements:

“Money [referring to PAC donations which had been solicited] is not going to stop the Trans Texas Corridor. A new governor is going to stop the Trans Texas Corridor.”

“We need roads. We all know that. What we don’t need is to have our land taken away and sold to private business.”

Referring to Gov. Perry’s new slogan, Bell said, “We’re proud of Texas, Mr. Perry, we just don’t like what you’re doing with it.”

“The greatness of Texas is waiting to be released. With boldness and dedication it can be released…Budgets are not only fiscal documents, they’re moral documents.”

All three candidates promoted teacher pay raises, with Bell promising a $6,000 pay raise, Strayhorn a $4,000 pay raise, and Friedman supporting a raise, but not giving a specific number. Friedman was the only candidate who suggested a funding source – gambling – for such a raise.

© 2005 The Lone Star Report: