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The Brief: December 17, 2009

Farming’s more than just a state of mind.

The Big Conversation

Farming’s more than just a state of mind.

Concerns have arisen – via political newsletter Capitol Inside — about Kinky Friedman’s eligibility for agriculture commissioner, the position he’s officially (as of yesterday) running for in the Democratic primary. 

The law stipulates that one must be actively involved in agricultural activity for five of the last 10 years to qualify for the position — and Friedman's resumé is a bit fuzzy.

Friedman (who senses the handiwork of primary opponent Hank Gilbert’s campaign – a charge Gilbert's team denies) says he’s plenty qualified.

Not only did Friedman hold an agriculture-focused post during his time in Borneo with the Peace Corps (though, that was more than a decade ago), he owns and operates an animal operation and shares a ranch —used primarily  as a summer camp for kids — in the Hill Country with his siblings.

“There may not be a lot of cattle but he does raise and sell them,” wrote Friedman’s attorney, Abel Dominguez. Friedman also grows feed — specifically a variety of hay — for those cattle.  Dominguez also cited the deer population Friedman maintains on his ranch.

Here’s a little ag commissioner eligibility requirement history from The Dallas Morning NewsRobert Garrett:

Until 1989, the law required only that a candidate for the position be "an experienced and practical farmer and have knowledge of agriculture, manufacturing, and general industry." It was tightened that year, though, to help candidate Rick Perry press his case that [Jim] Hightower wasn't truly an ag person. Perry, who had recently switched to the GOP, beat Hightower the next year.

CULLED

• Forget second acts — Carole Keeton Strayhorn is way beyond that. For her next adventure, she’s considering a run for comptroller as a Democrat. The Austin American-Statesman's Jason Embry reports that she called Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie yesterday to discuss the possibility. Strayhorn served two terms in the position as a Republican, and in 2006 ran an unsuccessful campaign as an independent for governor.

• It seems little gets Gov. Rick Perry’s blood boiling like global warming.  Lately, he’s been battling the Environmental Protection Agency and speaking out against cap and trade legislation.  On Wednesday, of his former ally Al Gore (the country's leading climate change advocate), Perry said, “I certainly got religion.  I think he’s gone to hell.”

• With the addition of Wichita Falls, Texas cities are really piling on the Texas Open Meetings Act — which says a a quorum of members of a governmental body cannot deliberate in secret without facing a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.  On Monday, four cities (now up to five) and 15 elected officials filed a legal challenge, calling provisions in the act unconstitutional and claiming it violated elected officials’ right to free speech.

I told Farouk if he's going to put 10 million bucks into a race, why not consider putting in another 200 bucks and change your name?" — Kinky Friedman on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Farouk Shami, who Friedman says “did not find that amusing.”

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