In what can not in any way be considered a high point for the Democrat party in Texas, its gubernatorial candidate is beseeching an independent to bail out of the race in hopes of becoming a viable candidate against the Republican incumbent.
Democratic nominee Chris Bell is trying to persuade independent Kinky Friedman to quit the race for governor, but Mr. Friedman insisted Tuesday that he’s in to stay.
Mr. Bell left a voice mail message on Mr. Friedman’s personal cellphone Tuesday, asking for a meeting at the mystery writer and former bandleader’s ranch near Kerrville, Mr. Friedman said.
Mr. Bell later confirmed he sought a meeting so he could try to talk Mr. Friedman into dropping out of the four-way race, which is in its home stretch. The election is Nov. 7.
“I had hoped to talk to Kinky privately, but now that it’s been reported by the Dallas Morning News, I’m going to ask him publicly: Please join me in defeating Rick Perry,” Mr. Bell said in a statement his campaign issued late Tuesday.
“Kinky and I agree on some very important issues and our supporters all have a lot in common: they want change.”
Mr. Bell credited Mr. Friedman with energizing voters but made it clear he thinks only he has a chance to win.
“Now is the time for us all to unite,” he said. “So I’m asking for Kinky to join me.”
Bell campaign aides said that Mr. Friedman performed poorly in Friday night’s candidate debate and that Friedman supporters have told the Democrat that they’d support him if he could persuade Mr. Friedman to step aside.
Interviewed as he headed to evening campaign events in Dallas, Mr. Bell acknowledged that Mr. Friedman is siphoning votes away from him and Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
“He’s taking from both,” Mr. Bell said. “But he’s taking more from me.”
Mr. Friedman, campaigning in Brownsville, said of Mr. Bell and his advisers: “They’re desperate and scrambling.”
Asked whether he would consider the Democrat’s request to step aside, Mr. Friedman said: “No. You’re kidding … for Chris Bell? What do you take me for?”
To drop out is unthinkable, he said: “I’d be letting a lot of people down.”
But he took delight in Mr. Bell’s message that the independent is taking a toll. “What can it possibly mean other than that we’re killing him?” Mr. Friedman said. “We’re getting all of the liberals. We’re getting all of the conservatives.”
As I’ve recently shown, the most recent polling does not support Friedman’s assertion that he’s getting all of both liberals and conservatives but does support the notion that Bell and the Democrats need help badly.
For what it’s worth, I thought Bell performed well in the one and only debate last Friday, almost as well as Perry and far outshining the embarrassing representations of our state put forth by Friedmand and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, an independent that has deserted both parties when it seemed opportunistic to do so. It should also be noted that a sudden gift of one cool million dollars may help salvage Bell’s campaign into a somewhat solid second place. Bell had been trailing badly in cash on hand, with only $62,000 compared to Perry’s $9.2 million, Strayhorn’s $5 million and Friedman’s $827,830. Despite the boost, that’s also not to be considered a high point for the Democrats in the Lone Star state.