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Friedman campaign urges approval of nickname on ballot

Candidate has had moniker since 1962, lawyer says
R.G. RATCLIFFE
Houston Chronicle

Kinky Friedman's campaign urged Texas' chief election official Wednesday to put him on the ballot for governor using his famous nickname rather than his lesser-known given name of Richard.

Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams has said Friedman can be listed on the ballot with his nickname but said he thinks state law will require him to be listed as either Richard "Kinky" Friedman or R. "Kinky" Friedman.

Friedman's campaign general counsel, Blake Rocap, wrote Williams to say Friedman has gone by the nickname since he was a freshman at the University of Texas in 1962.

"He signs his name Kinky Friedman, he introduces himself not as 'Richard Friedman but people call me Kinky,' but as simply Kinky," Rocap said. "He has recorded and released ten albums, published twenty-six books and countless articles have been written about Kinky Friedman or published under the byline Kinky Friedman."

Rocap said state law does not require the nickname to be used in conjunction with a given name. Rocap also rejected a suggestion by Williams that Friedman could have legally changed his name.

"Exalting this sort of technical form over substance would be a waste of the court's time and serve no purpose but to show an obstinate inflexibility and blind fealty to your original interpretation of the statute, no matter how erroneous," Rocap said.

Friedman spokeswoman Laura Stromberg said the campaign hopes Williams will reconsider his position.

Williams has not made a final ruling on the use of Friedman's name or that of another independent candidate, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who wants to be on the ballot with the nickname "Grandma." Williams has questioned whether that is an attempt to get her campaign slogan, "One tough grandma," on the ballot.

Friedman and Strayhorn are challenging Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican. The Democratic nominee is former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell. The Libertarian is James Werner.

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