As Houston hair care magnate Farouk Shami prepares to jump into the Texas governors race today, his friend Kinky Friedman is brushing aside speculation that he might drop out of the Democratic primary race to endorse the Houston businessman.
The rumors, which have been making the rounds in Democratic circles for weeks, "couldn't be more wrong," Friedman said by phone as Shami planned a 3 p.m. announcement rally in Houston to declare his candidacy as a Democrat.
When Friedman first ran against Gov. Rick Perry as an independent candidate in 2006, he often introduced Shami as his campaign manager, recalls the Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy. They also sold and marketed Farouk & Friedman's Olive Oil to raise money for Israeli and Palestinian children affected by the Middle East conflict. Friedman promised then that if he became governor, he would name Shami, a Palestinian-American, as his ambassador to Israel.
Shami's spokeswoman Jessica Marie Gutierrez said Shami, who plans to use $10 million of his own money in the governor's race, considers Friedman "a great guy" but feels that the Austin author-entertainer "doesn't have the experience Farouk has to be governor.
"He has nothing against anybody. He has nothing against Perry," Gutierrez said of her boss. "He just feels when it comes down to running the state of Texas, he would be the man for the position."
Friedman, now running as a Democrat, said the rumors that he might endorse Shami could stem from confusion over his pledge that he would endorse and campaign for whomever wins the Democratic primary if he's not the nominee. "Right now, I think all of them look better than Prince Humperdink (Kinky-code for Perry)," Friedman said of his Democratic rivals.
At the moment, though, that's a pledge that Friedman believes he probably won't have to honor. "I think I'm going to win," he said. "At this point, I think we're looking very, very good."
-- Dave Montgomery