Friday, May 05, 2006

“We will be on the ballot. There is no question about that.”

Independent candidates say they have the signatures to get on governor’s race ballot

May 05, 2006

By Dan Genz
The Waco Tribune-Herald
Copyright 2006

This week was expected to be the last dash before independent candidates submitted thousands of signatures to make the ballot for the Texas governor’s race in November.

But because Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and celebrity Kinky Friedman report collecting well above the required amount of 45,540 signatures, their supporters will close petition drives across Central Texas on Wednesday with a sense of anticlimactic relief.

“We’re not doing a last-day push or anything,” said Will Lowrance, the Hillsboro mayor who collected more than 200 signatures for Strayhorn. “Her numbers are so far over the top.”

Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders reported at least 145,000 total signatures, while Friedman spokeswoman Laura Stromberg would only say the humorist and musician eclipsed the target by “tens of thousands.”

“We will be on the ballot. There is no question about that,” she said.

Despite the numbers, Waco pizza parlor owner and Friedman supporter Mary Duty wondered if it was enough as she prepared to send her last batch of signatures to the campaign headquarters Thursday night.

“I feel like we got that 1,000 (local signatures) we were supposed to get,” she said. “But I have this sense of dread and worry — what if the signatures get turned down?”

Both campaigns assumed thousands of their supporters’ signatures will be disqualified for a bevy of reasons and compensated by aiming for much higher goals than just 45,540.

If Strayhorn and Friedman qualify for the ballot, the state will be in for one of its most crowded November governor’s races in history. The independents would join Democratic nominee Chris Bell in challenging Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election bid.

Lowrance and Duty said their petition drives appear successful because people in their communities are clamoring for a new leader.

“The people have just responded, they have come from all parts of Hill County saying we want to be part of ensuring that Carole gets on the ballot because we believe there has to be a change,” Lowrance said.

But Perry’s campaign called Strayhorn’s signature count underwhelming.

“Carole Strayhorn has often touted that she’s the highest vote-getter in the last couple of general elections, so I would think that anything less than 300,000 or 400,000 signatures would be a major disappointment for her,” Perry spokesman Robert Black said.


© 2006 The Waco Tribune-Herald: