Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Independents say they are on track to collect the signatures needed to get on fall ballot
By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
Apr. 18, 2006
AUSTIN - The gubernatorial campaigns of independent candidates Kinky Friedman and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said Monday they are on track to getting the 45,540 signatures they need to get onto the general election ballot.
But neither campaign was willing to say how many signatures have been gathered so far.
Strayhorn campaign manager Brad McClellan said the campaign is trying to gather far more signatures than needed to make sure there are enough valid signatures. He said he didn't want to release the number because that might make supporters believe they can slack off on the petition drive.
"We want to keep getting them. We don't want to take the wind out of the sails," McClellan said. "We're in very good shape. But we're going to keep getting them."
To be valid, the signatures must come from registered voters who did not vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries or runoffs. Also, anyone who signs both the Friedman and Strayhorn petitions is only counted for whichever campaign got the name first.
The deadline for gathering signatures is May 11. Strayhorn has sued Secretary of State Roger Williams, claiming a verification process he has set up is intended to harm the independents' campaigns. She has a federal court hearing set for May 1.
Friedman campaign manager Dean Barkley said the staff is not telling him how many signatures have been gathered for fear he will tell people.
"All I know is the people in charge of the petition drive all have smiles on their faces," Barkley said.
"We're right on schedule to make it. Our goal is to get 100,000-plus if we can do that, and I'm hoping we'll be able to do that. But we're doing very well," Barkley said.