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Singer, novelist, detective - and governor?

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"We're a very colorful, independent state and we need a colorful, independent governor," says Friedman, when asked to expound on his candidacy at a recent book signing. "We know that the governor of Texas does not do any heavy lifting. So I'll let the lieutenant governor do all the heavy lifting; he'll deal with the legislature and I'll be involved with anything that has nothing to do with politics."

For instance, "I'll go to the governors' conference in Hawaii," he says as the crowd screams in laughter. "But most importantly, I will fight the 'wussification' of Texas. I will rise and shine and bring back the glory of Texas."

His platform includes the support of nondenominational prayer in schools because "What's wrong with children believing in something?" He's calling for the creation of a Texas Peace Corps (not an oxymoron, he insists). And he backs gay marriage because "I think they have every right to be just as miserable as the rest of us."

But for the most part, he steers clear of talking about volatile issues such as gun control and abortion, saying simply: "I'm not pro-choice. I'm not pro-life. I'm pro-football."

Novel adventures starring ... himself

To get on the ballot as an independent, he and his army of volunteers will need to gather 65,000 signatures. But he's no newcomer to the political process.

In 1986, he ran for justice of the peace in Kerrville on the promise that he would keep his fellow "Kerrverts" from war with nearby Fredericksburg and reduce the 60-mile-an-hour speed limit to 59.50.

He was defeated.

Friedman, whose first name is Richard, was born in Chicago and moved to the Texas hill country as a child. He joined the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s and was sent to Borneo, where he says he introduced the natives to the game of Frisbee. It was there he began to write country music.

When he returned to Texas, he formed the Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys band and began performing across the United States with such artists as Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.

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