Texas Democrats aren't through with the changes on the statewide ticket. Take a look at this teaser from gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, issued after Hank Gilbert exited the governor's race, set his heart on being agriculture commissioner, and endorsed Farouk Shami:
"I think that all of these things are good for the party and good for the ticket. We all want new leadership in Austin and I think each candidate should be evaluating how best to achieve that. Everyone on the ticket or thinking of joining the ticket should be thinking about what will be best for Democrats in November. We will take the weekend to visit with all of the candidates, my advisors, and many of my supporters and have an announcement about how I believe I can best support our party on Monday."
Don't be surprised if he moves to another race. And don't forget that one of the people in this particular smoke-filled room is former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, who knows a little something about one of the agencies on the ballot.
Ever since Tom Schieffer dropped out of the race — he endorsed Houston Mayor Bill White on the way out — the Democrats have been talking about changes on the ballot. With two seriously well-financed candidates in the governor's race — Shami and White — there are millions of incentives for the other candidates to find something else to do. After an initial meeting with state party Chairman Boyd Richie, nobody moved. But reality is setting in, and there are open slots on the ballot that need to be filled by people — people who might otherwise get pureed in a contest that includes two candidates with big treasuries.
A bit of ballet lies ahead if Friedman wants to run for agriculture commissioner. Gilbert endorsed Shami and Shami "accepted" his endorsment and said nice things about him. But he didn't endorse Gilbert for ag commissioner. Shami is a longtime business associate of John McCall, who was Friedman's financial angel in the 2006 race for governor. McCall hasn't been nearly as generous this time around — you have to wonder if that has anything to do with having two friends in the same race — and might be more comfortable if Friedman ran for, say, ag commissioner. As long as there's no deal to break between Shami and Gilbert, that could work.
Friedman will make his announcement after the weekend.
UPDATE: The Friedman campaign released the following statement on Monday: "The only announcement today is that we have no announcement. Kinky has invested 7 months and a lot of money in this race and is not going to rush a decision that will so significantly impact the ticket. He is taking a few more days to visit with his supporters and friends. Kinky also wants to visit with both Mr. Shami and Mayor White before making a final decision. We will keep our supporters and the media advised once a decision has been reached."