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Kinky comes calling for L.A. cash

November 16, 2005|Scott Martelle | Times Staff Writer

It can pay to have friends in glittery places.

Kinky Friedman, iconoclastic country singer, mystery writer and now independent Texas gubernatorial candidate, tonight joins the legions of non-California political hopefuls who have traveled to Los Angeles and, like game show contestants, returned home with a door prize.

Cash.

"We're trying, of course, to make this a financial pleasure," Friedman said by phone from Texas. "But we think that this campaign actually is going to affect people in California. When I'm elected in Texas in November, you will see bluebonnets spring up all over America. It will bring a smile to everyone's face and a shiver up the spine of every politician."

Friedman, who first rose to fame as the singer of satirical country songs in the 1970s, is making a two-hat trip to Los Angeles. At 5 p.m. today he holds a campaign "funraiser" at Lucy's El Adobe in Hollywood. And in a non-campaign appearance, Friedman dons his entertainer's hat at 8 p.m. Thursday to anchor an evening of reading, music and conversation as part of the Skirball Cultural Center's "From Haven to Home" series on the evolution of Jewish life in America.

The presentation will include music by former members of his band, the Texas Jewboys -- Jeff "Little Jewford" Shelby and Lebanese American Jimmie "Ratso" Silman. "We feel," Friedman said, "we represent the last true hope for peace in the Middle East."

Los Angeles has been a lucrative cash cow for out-of-state politicians, particularly Democrats. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has raised hundreds of thousands from Los Angeles-area contributors for her 2006 reelection campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In October, she attended three Los Angeles-area fundraisers, including a dinner hosted by director Rob Reiner.

Friedman's connections aren't quite so high-octane. The fundraiser at Lucy's El Adobe -- where former Gov. Jerry Brown met onetime flame Linda Ronstadt -- has no host, and donations begin at $50. The event will include some music, but not by Friedman, who plans to deliver a version of his ever-evolving stump speech about how the heroic luster of the cowboy has faded while leadership of major political parties "is really the same guy admiring himself in the mirror.... I have a 4 1/2 -hour presentation. I refined it."

Friedman's campaign remains a longshot, but a recent Zogby poll placed Friedman third with 21% support, trailing Democratic challenger Chris Bell, a former congressman, with 25%, and incumbent Republican Rick Perry, with 42%.

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