Texas: 'Kinky' Is OK; 'Grandma' Isn't

SIDE-BY-SIDE: The Texas governor's race just got a lot more interesting. That's because two independents -- Carole "One Tough Grandma" Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky "How hard can it be?" Friedman -- officially entered the race last week against Democrat Chris Bell and incumbent Republican Rick Perry.
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Carole Keeton Strayhorn won't get to be called "Grandma" on the November ballot, but fellow independent candidate for governor Kinky Friedman will get to use his nickame, the state's elections chief ruled Monday.

Secretary of State Roger Williams decided that Friedman's given first name will also appear. Friedman had wanted to be known simply as Kinky Friedman, but he will appear on the ballot as "Richard 'Kinky' Friedman."

Williams ruled that Strayhorn's use of "Grandma" is a slogan and therefore not allowed on the ballot under the Texas Election Code. "Kinky" can remain on the ballot because Friedman has been known by that nickname for years.

Strayhorn, the state comptroller since 1999, contends many Texans know her as "Grandma," and she calls herself "one tough grandma." She's running in her first election with her current last name. The last time she ran for office, in 2002, before she remarried, her last name was Rylander — a name she'd held for years in public office.

Both independents are trying to oust Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Democrat Chris Bell and Libertarian James Werner also are running for governor.

Neither independent candidate had immediate comment on the decision.

The secretary of state said he took several factors into account in Strayhorn's case.

He noted that Strayhorn has never appeared on an election ballot under the name "Grandma" and that her declaration of intent to run as an independent lists her name only as Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Her voter petitions that her campaign circulated to get her on the ballot list her as Carole Keeton Strayhorn, and the only reference to "Grandma" in communication with the Secretary of State's Office appears on Strayhorn's campaign literature, Williams stated.

Strayhorn's attorney, Roy Minton, wrote in June to the secretary of state saying that Strayhorn is known to friends and strangers alike as "Grandma." Minton said Strayhorn became a grandmother Nov. 12, 1994, and began using the nickname.

Williams didn't buy that argument.

Friedman's case is different, said Scott Haywood, spokesman for the elections agency.

"It's quite apparent that 'Kinky' is a name he's been using for a number of years," Haywood said, adding that the Texas election code requires the use of a given name along with a nickname in most cases.

Friedman, a musician and author, got his nickname because of his curly hair and first became known as "Kinky" in 1962 during his freshman year at the University of Texas, his campaign has said. Friedman has recorded released 10 music albums, published 26 books and written numerous articles under the name "Kinky Friedman."