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DALLAS-Independent candidate Kinky Friedman, seizing an opportunity to replace Gov. Rick Perry as keynote speaker for the North Texas SIOR Chapter, laid out a common-sense platform to a record-breaking crowd, adeptly showing his chutzpah for a gubernatorial run isn’t without substance.

When word got out that Friedman was replacing the governor on the dais, reservations spiked and tables sold out, attracting 650 SIOR members and guests to the Westin Galleria event in North Dallas. Though the delivery was light on the commercial real estate industry, the Texas-bred author, musician and political satirist–a modern-day mix of Mark Twain and Will Rogers–scored some solid slam dunks with a voting constituency perceived most often as straight party line.

“The people I’m talking to are saying they think the Republicans and Democrats have let us down,” Friedman said. At the top of his platform are issues like education, the US-Mexico border and biodiesel fuel development. There’s also support for legalized gambling, prayer in school, gay marriage and a 1% surcharge on big oil and gas companies to generate up to $2 billion for his “Trust for Texas Heroes,” a coffer dedicated to funding salary hikes for teachers, firefighters and police.

“Education and the border are the two issues that this governor has ignored,” Friedman said. He advocated educators “stop teaching to the TAKS test” plus endorsed a bilateral exchange that taps oil-rich Mexico’s reserves for life on the Texas side of the border as a means to help quash illegal immigration. The existing policy “has got to change,” he said. “We have to close the border in order reopen it again. I suppose the governor is waiting for the feds. Texas has never waited for anybody to help us. We aren’t going to do this conventionally.”

It’s widely recognized border changes will have to be gingerly addressed. Texas’ maquiladora trade alone carries an economic clout of close to $250 billion for the US and Mexico. The maquiladora industrial space, with more on the way each day, exceeds 141 million sf in El Paso, Santa Teresa, Juarez, Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, McAllen and Reynosa.

“People are frustrated all over the state because nothing has been delivered,” Friedman said. “Republicans and Democrats will keep the insider games going until there’s an alternative on the ballot.” He must collect 50,000 signatures, beginning March 8, to earn a berth on the ballot. Under Texas law, party-registered voters who sign his petition are barred from casting ballots in the May primary election.

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