Wake up Texas! `Homespun Hogan,’ the `Hayseed from Cleburne,’ is (once again) the sleeper candidate for Ag Commissioner

 

Jim Hogan at the Blue Star Grill in Cleburne.

Good morning Austin:

The day after the great Sid Miller-Trey Blocker debate in the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner on Feb. 6.  I missed a call from the third candidate in that race, Jim Hogan. He left a message asking if I wanted to “chew the fat.”

You can watch the Hogan-less debate here. It begins at just about the 2-hour 10-minute mark.

When I called Hogan back, he answered and I asked, “Is that party-switching sleeper candidate from Cleburne?”

“Yeah I think you got that right,” Hogan replied. “You must be psychic.”

I asked him if this was a good time to chew the fat.

“Yes,” he said. “I’m actually walking around  in my coveralls listening to my cows holler for another bale of hay.”

I thought that was smart, setting a pastoral scene for our conversation, that placed a pleasant and appropriate mental image in my mind.

I said this phone call must mean he’s going all out in his campaign this time.

“This is headquarters,” he said. “They say they want a farmer, they got one.”

FR: Did you watch the Miller-Blocker debate?

HOGAN:  No, but I went to the library today and read all about it.

FR: Were you invited?

HOGAN: I don’t think so. I’ve been invited to a lot of stuff that I’ve turned down. I can’t tell you what I’ve turned down. You know that’s not my style, arguing with people. I’d rather talk to them. so you can get your words in.

FR: It worked for you once.

HOGAN: I don’t know, maybe lightning’ strikes twice. You reckon?

FR: I don’t know.

HOGAN: I don’t know either.

FR: Does the switch from Democrat to Republican signal a difference in approach?

HOGAN: No. I mean I’m the same person. I don’t feel any different being on one ticket or the other one. I don’t think I’m loved by either hierarchy, but the people love me,  but not the people in the party, the hierarchy of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, but I’m the same person, I always was. I’m very independent. When I went down to the Republican deal to sign up (to be on the ballot) the only difference was writing Republican on the check instead of writing Democrat.

I’m just for the people.

I wouldn’t say I was a Democrat last time, and I wont say I was a Republican now.

Hogan said he wasn’t a Democrat when he ran and was elected the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner in 2104.

FR: So why’d you run as a Republican this time?

HOGAN: Because you can’t win as a Democrat.

FR: So why did you run as a Democrat last time?

HOGAN: Well there was five Republicans, and I didn’t think I could whup five Republicans – Jim Hogan, WhoisJimHogan.com. They caught onto that real quick. But actually, I couldn’t whup five Republicans at one time, but I figured if I could whup two Democrats, then I would only have to whup one Republican.

I mean there’s 4 million people that vote in the Republican (primary) and only 2 million vote in the Democrat. That’s useless, I wouldn’t run again as a Democrat. And it’s my last run anyway , I didn’t think I was gonna to run this time. I didn’t sign up until the last day. I didn’t really want to run, but I thought it was my duty to run. I really did. I fought it and fought it and fought it and then the last day I said, “Yeah, I’ll sign up.”

Classic.

HOGAN: So I went and signed up the last day. You know, I hate to spend my money. Like one guy said, `You can to Europe on that.’ $3,750. That’s a lot of money.”

FR: How did you get the money for the filing fee? Sell more eggs?

HOGAN: Sold my milk by the pint instead of the quart.

We’ll see what happens. If the people want me, I’m on the ballot. If they don’t like Sid and they don’t like Trey, they’ve got somebody else to vote for. That’s democracy.

FR: So, how do you like your chances.

HOGAN: While ideally,there are three people on the ballot and nobody knew either one of them, you’ve got a thirty-three-and-a third percent chance. But then you’ve got  Sid’s the incumbent. But you look at the comments on his deals and it don’t seems  like anyone loves the poor man. I feel sorry for the guy.

All the rodeo people, the people who go to rodeos,  they’re going to vote for him.

And then Trey, I don’t even know if Trey is eligible to run, tell you the truth. Have you ever read the qualifications to run for Ag Commissioner?

FR: There’s qualifications?

HOGAN: Yeah. You’ve got to be a farmer to run for ag commissioner.

FR: Says who?

HOGAN: It’s the qualifications. I’ve got it right here.

He begins to recite the state Agriculture Code: Title 2. Department of Agriculture. Chapter 11, Administration.

 

FR: This is for real? This is not some antique statute from the 1920s that’s been repealed?

HOGAN: No.

Here’s its legislative pedigree.

Hmmm.

I was still worried that Hogan might be pulling a Mr. Haney on me.

 

So I got in touch Eric Opiela, rancher, attorney and former executive director and associate general counsel of the Republican Party of Texas, who ran for agriculture commissioner in 2014, finishing third in the Republican primary, to see if I was missing something.

Opiela replied:

You’re not missing anything. There’s a lot of ways to qualify in there.

This cycle, Sid qualifies by (2) for sure and probably (1) as well, it doesn’t appear he qualifies under (3) any more from looking at the farm subsidy database.

Trey probably qualifies under (4) by lobbying for TSCRA (if “works for” includes as a contractor) (he doesn’t appear to qualify under any other provision).

TSCRA refers to the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

I asked Opiela if candidates have to prove they meet they qualifications when they file for office.

OPIELA:

No demonstration necessary, you just sign your ballot application affidavit stating you meet the qualifications.  If you don’t your opponent would have to take you to court and have a judge declare you ineligible.  (ostensibly the state chair could administratively declare someone ineligible, but only on a conclusive public document establishing the same–with so many ways to qualify this is unlikely).

This is the only statewide office that sets qualifications in statute, because it is the only statewide elected office not established in the State Constitution.  Judicial offices require candidates to be licensed to practice for a number of years, but other wise, no, this is the only one.

I emailed Blocker’s campaign asking if and how he qualified to run. They didn’t reply. I called and left a message with his campaign spokesman asking the same question. She didn’t reply.

However, on his website, here’s how he answered the question, Have you ever worked in agriculture?

I’m a 6th generation Texan. My forefathers were among the most well respected cattlemen of their time. My great, great uncle drove the first heard of cattle onto the XIT Ranch, and gave the ranch its name. I’m proud of this heritage and believe that agriculture and rural Texas are the heart and soul of our great State.

Growing up, we raised horses, some pigs, and the occasional cow for consumption, but not for sale. Since graduating college I’ve been fighting for conservative causes, and representing agriculture and rural Texas at the Legislature – first, as a staffer for several rural legislators, and for the past ten years as a lobbyist. My first lobby client was the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Working closely with the Farm Bureau in 2005, we helped kill the Trans-Texas Corridor and protect private property rights.

I have now given up my lobby practice to devote more time to conservative causes and to fight the corruption and crony capitalism I’ve witnessed in Austin over the past several years. Sid Miller is the poster child for that corruption. My opponent may know his way around the ass end of a cow, but he knows nothing about running an agency in an ethical, fiscally conservative, fiscally responsible way that benefits agriculture and other small businesses. And that’s what this election is about.

I subsequently told Hogan what Opiela had said about Blocker probably qualifying as a lobbyist for TSCRA, but Hogan said he doubted being a lobbyist would cut it.

Back to my interview.

HOGAN: I’m not trying to put the guy out of the race. It’s probably better if he’s in, but what I’m saying is they don’t care anything about the law. Is the law for nothing?

FR: So what’s your strategy?

HOGAN: All if have to do is finish  second to get into the runoff if they don’t get 50 percent. So, if I get 31, 32, 33 percent and one of them gets less than me, I’m in the runoff.

There’s odds, there’s number, there’s math.

But I want people to vote for me and what I stand for.

Four years ago, in the aftermath of the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner four years ago, I did a First ReadingJim Hogan may be “some hayseed from Cleburne,” but he’s nobody’s fool

We conclude primary week by checking in with the most surprising winner. That would be Jim Hogan of Cleburne, who finished first in the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner with 38.8 percent of the vote, just ahead of Kinky Friedman, who received 37.74 percent. They will face each other in the May runoff.
The third candidate – Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III – finished out of the money, with 23.45 percent of the vote, even though he spent more than either of the other candidates – which wasn’t hard because Friedman reported raising and spending nothing, and Hogan raised nothing and spent next to nothing. Fitzsimons was also, essentially, the anointed candidate of Democratic powers-that-be who didn’t want the seriousness of the 2104 Democratic state ticket compromised by the presence of Kinky Friedman on the ballot.

I talked to Hogan for an hour Thursday evening as he was leaving the public library in Cleburne.
“That’s where I do my campaigning,” he said, explaining that he used one of the library’s public terminals because where he lives out in the country, the only Internet you can get is dial-up and it’s too slow for a man trying to get himself elected agriculture commissioner.

His campaign, though, mostly consisted of checking his Facebook page and waiting to be Googled.
I began by apologizing to Hogan for not having taken his campaign seriously merely because he wasn’t spending money, creating a Web site, or doing any of the usual candidate things.

“I guess a lot of people are eating crow today. But it’s good for the soul. It make people laugh and it gives people hope,” said Hogan. “This is good for the public. It’s good for people to get a little excited that something out of the normal can really happen.”

I quoted his post-election post on his Facebook page

Has it sunk in it? The race is over but the victor was not the person with the most name recognition or the most money. No, it’s some hayseed from Cleburne, Tex. He had no endorsements. No bumper stickers. No signs. No mailers. No TV. No name recognition. Nothing that’s associated with a normal campaign. Can you believe it? He won. The political analysts said it was only because he had a good-sounding name. Well next time, George Washington can run. But the hayseed said it was because God pulled off a miracle. You can’t buy off God. But political analysts refuted that and said it was simply, “eenie, meenie, miney, mo.” Nevertheless, it is refreshing!!! You be the judge.

Last month, his hometown paper, the Cleburne Times Review, wrote up Hogan’s renewed bid.

Homespun Hogan hops aisle for second run
By Matt Smith:

Cleburne dark horse candidate Jim Hogan — who in 2014 stunned the state’s Democratic establishment not to mention the pollsters and comedian Kinky Friedman then went on to post a respectable showing against Texas’ Republican hegemony in that year’s general election — is back for a second run at the Texas agriculture commissioner seat. 

This go around, however, he’s flying under the Republican rather than the Democratic banner, party labels that appear to mean little to Hogan one way or the other

Smith noted that four years ago:

Although largely unknown on the statewide level, Hogan quickly became known and the focus of media interest following his upset victory in the Democratic Primary.

“After you beat these birds you don’t have to call them anymore,” Hogan said. “They call you.”

Right.

I told Hogan that I liked the ring of “Homespun Hogan.”

FR: Is that something Smith came up with, or is that on your business card?

HOGAN: I don’t have a business card.

At this point, our conversation went in an unexpected direction.

Jim Hogan suggested I reread what Christopher Hooks wrote about him four years ago in the Texas Observer.

HOGAN: If you reread that and get to the bottom to what I said, I mean it’s a perfect deal of what I stand for. I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat

Well, I recalled Hooks reportage on Hogan because, it so happened, we had arranged to both visit Hogan at the same time, dropping in on Hogan in Cleburne on our way to the Democratic State Convention that Hogan wasn’t going to, even though he was one of the party’s nominees for statewide office.

Hooks produced this piece – Mighty Jim Hogan and the Art of the Anti-Campaign – published on July 24.

And here is the bottom of the piece:

Hogan’s running as a Democrat, but only because he thought he had better odds of winning the nomination. If he wins, he’s going to hire Republicans alongside Democrats. He has no particular affection for either party, but he wishes the system worked better, and that people voted more. Texas’ unbalanced party system, he thinks, has screwed up the state. “I thought we had a two-party system in America,” he says.

“Don’t vote Republican or Democrat, look at the person. I don’t even know what a party is, other than the people that run it,” he says. “If you’re a Republican and you got a bad person, and the Democrats have a good person, you’re going to vote the bad person just because he’s a Republican?”

On all matters, Hogan preaches moderation. “I like all people, that’s my philosophy,” he said. Around Cleburne, plenty of people have gotten heated about increasing numbers of immigrants—some won’t go to the H-E-B anymore because there’s too many unfamiliar faces. But Hogan is calm. Migrants “come here to work hard and send money home to their family.” He thinks open carry protesters are silly. “Just cause you can don’t mean you have to,” he says. “That’s the thing with politics everywhere. There’s extremes, and there’s people with logic.”

Hogan may claim the mantle of logic, but in Texas, logic is not enough. Barring the discovery of Miller in bed with, in the immortal words of Edwin Edwards, a dead girl or a live boy, his party affiliation will trump Hogan’s and Miller will spend a number of years doing whatever it is he wants to do in statewide office, before presumably trying to make the jump to another one.

In theory, Americans like people like Hogan—genuine outsiders, rough-hewn pragmatists, underdogs. There used to be more people like Hogan in public office. In practice, today’s strivers come from a very different mold.

Officeholders are as different from us as an alien race. In national races, we’ve come to expect our campaigns, and our campaigners, to function with the mechanical precision and sleek design of a Swiss watch. A wrong word or a step out of place can doom a person’s political fortunes, and so actual fortunes are spent on ensuring that doesn’t happen. Candidates never have a chance to show their real selves, and they become alienated from us. And we become alienated from the political process.

In Texas, at the state and local level, the political process has become perverted in a very different way. A vanishingly small number of voters have a say in the way the state is run, thanks to the total dominance of the Republican Party and its primary elections. Statewide candidates like Miller face little accountability from voters once they get past their primary runoff. Party affiliation is the golden god of Texas politics, and the state is left with demagogues of all stripes running virtually unopposed. Apathy grows, and many voters tune out.

Hogan wants no part of any of that. “I realized that when I signed up to run, I became a product,” he says. “I don’t want to be anything that I’m not.”

Hogan won’t change all that, but he’s having fun trying. “There’s a lot of people around town laughing and having a ball about this, because they know who I am,” Hogan laughs. “A lot of my neighbors wanted clips for their scrapbooks. They never thought Jim Hogan, who mows his lawn with a push mower, would get here.”

Well, that is pretty good.

But, you will notice that Hooks’ piece, which Hogan so liked, was produced with the benefit of time for philosophical cogitation, whereas my unremarked-upon piece was produced under immediate daily deadline pressure.

Just saying.

Here is the top of my story from June 26.

CLEBURNE —If life were a Frank Capra or Preston Sturges movie, Jim Hogan would be Texas’ next agriculture commissioner.

If it were, a scoop-hungry reporter might connive a way to spirit the 63-year-old farmer and insurance agent against his will to this weekend’s Democratic State Convention, where he would claim the party’s nomination for agriculture commissioner — conferred upon him in the May 27 runoff — with such a homespun flourish that his election against the odds as the first Democrat to win statewide office in 20 years would be a fait accompli.

But, as it is, Hogan’s regular back booth at Cleburne’s Blue Star Grill, where he holds his meetings, such as they are, is as close as the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee for agriculture commissioner will get to the party’s state convention in Dallas, which opens Friday.

“I just don’t want to be involved in politics. I just don’t have any regard for it,” Hogan, who has a 130-acre spread and a small calf-cow operation in Liberty Chapel on the outskirts of Cleburne, said Thursday.

“I want to stay as far away from politics as possible,” he said.

Hogan’s approach has worked for him so far.

Utterly unknown, Hogan finished first, narrowly ahead of Kinky Friedman — the entertainer and sometime candidate who campaigned for legalizing marijuana and hemp — in the March primary, and then defeated Friedman by 8 percentage points in the May runoff.

Back to my recent interview with Hogan.

HOGAN: I’m not into politics and all that bickering and hollering. I’m into love over hate and kindness over cruelty. We’ve had enough of politics. This office has nothing to do with politics. You’ve got to have good people to run it. You’ve got to watch your money. And there’s always going to be stuff that needs to be done.

You know there are old farmers and they’re just four years older than they were four years ago. Land’s being used up. There’s a lot less land four years later. Have we got any closer to solving the drought problem? No, it’s rained some, but we’re kind of in drought now.

The problems are still there. Like I tell people, I can’t solve all the problems that you’ve got, but maybe I can solve some of them.

Most people don’t talk like me. I talk country, and I’m proud of it. They talk politics and I don’t want any part of that.

For evil to come about is for good people to do nothing.

I ask Hogan, aside from his hometown paper, if he’s had any other good coverage this time around.

HOGAN: Christopher Hooks …

Oh man, more Christopher Hooks?

Hogan: He wrote, “Bonus: if you’ve had weird dreams and premonitions, don’t worry, Jim Hogan’s signed up. This time he’s signed up as Republican and this time he’ll win the nomination and then maybe president.

Hogan is cackling.

FR: I think he’s getting carried away there.

What Hogan was referring to was the kicker on a Hooks’ piece about what to watch for in the 2018 primaries.

Bonus Hogan: If you had uneasy dreams last night, filled with omens you find hard to decipher, let us put your mind at rest. Yes, Jim Hogan is back, this time in the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner. Cleburne’s most zen-like campaigner and all around good ol’ boy won the Democratic nomination for ag commissioner in 2014, but lost the general. He’s learned from his mistake — this time he’ll win the Republican nomination, and then the general, and then, maybe, run for president.

Back to our interview.

 

HOGAN: People need a choice. If people don’t sign up to do things, then the establishment wins.

I give Sid a watermelon the last time I see him. I don’t dislike Sid. I don’t dislike Trey Blocker. If you did something bad, I couldn’t condone it, could I? I’m not saying anything about Sid bad, other than the things he’s done. It’s a pattern. Buying that car for $37,000. Buying a pick up for $10,000, that’s not right.

From Andrea Zelinski at the Houston ChronicleQuestions arise over Sid Miller’s purchase of a Chevy Tahoe

Miller’s campaign bought two vehicles last year, according to campaign records. The campaign bought a truck in August for $10,000 from the Texas Facilities Commission. A month later, the campaign invested in the Tahoe, which would ultimately cost about $42,500: buying the truck for $37,601, spending $3,907 on repairs and $1,021 on tires, according to state records.

“In 2014, Commissioner Miller put 120,000 miles on his personal vehicle campaigning across the state of Texas, and he thought it was more cost-effective and efficient to actually have a campaign vehicle used for that purpose,” said Todd Smith, the commissioner’s campaign spokesman. “It’s only used for campaign purposes.”

The $10,000 truck, which Smith did not know the make and model of, is currently for sale, he said.

HOGAN: If Sid were standing by me right now I would tell him face to face, `Sid, That ain’t right. Now why in the world did  you do that?’ That’s just the kind of man I am.

When I run that agency, you got to have people there smarter than you are there.

Any other good coverage, aside from Hooks, I asked.

Well, he said, there’s Bethann Coldiron.

Four years ago when he ran, Coldiron, then a student at Tarleton State University, did a radio interview with Hogan.

This year, he got a call from Coldiron, asking if they could do it again, though now she’s graduated and has a job as the assistant managing editor of the Burleson Star.

Howdy, Burleson! I am Bethann Coldiron, the newest member of the Burleson Star team. As the assistant managing editor, what will my role be? Well, in a world where newspaper staffs are growing smaller and smaller, I’ll be doing a little bit of everything. However, my specialties lie in reporting and newspaper design. Yes, believe it or not there is an art to how your weekly paper is laid out. It’s sort of like doing a giant puzzle, but I also have to keep in mind the readability of the paper.

I am a Fort Worth native who graduated from Weatherford College with an A.A.S. in equine science, then went to Tarleton State University – go Texans! There, I earned a B.S. in communications with an emphasis on journalism.

Journalism found me by accident. I had actually transferred to TSU to pursue a degree in agricultural communications. However, my first semester, I took a required news writing class and I was hooked. I joined the dark side, changed my major and never looked back.

Dark side? Agricultural communications? Is that like horse-whispering? There is so much I don’t know.

HOGAN: She’s a nice lady. She’s trying to make it in life. I’m glad to help. If Evan Smith hadda called me, I wouldn’t have done it, because I would have had to drive down (to Austin) – it costs …  I just wouldn’t have done it. But for this girl I would.

FR: You wouldn’t do it for Evan Smith? Why not?

HOGAN: Well, I’d have to go down there and it would be more expense, and then if I did it for him, I’d have to it for someone else.

FR: Oh, yeah, it could spiral out of control. Next thing you know, you’d be running a campaign.

Here’s the interview with Coldiron, and some of the story she wrote for the Star.

SECOND TIME’S THE CHARM 

Wed, 02/14/2018
BETHANN COLDIRON
bethann@thestargroup.com

“I like Sid Miller,” Hogan said. “He may write some silly things on his Facebook, and if he were here I’d probably call him out on it. But I’m not going to say anything bad about him.”

Hogan said Miller has a love of politics and doesn’t think he should have drawn a salary while out on the campaign trail in his last year of office.

“If Sid was sitting right here I’d say, ’Sid, why’d you do that? You know better than that.’ You’re elected to the office, you do the job. The fourth year comes around and you want to politic, don’t take the money.”

In fact, Hogan brought Miller one of his home-grown watermelons in a gesture of goodwill.

“I believe in love over hate,” said Hogan. “Kindness over cruelty.”

Hogan said he’s keeping his platforms and issues simple.

Water conservation, getting young farmers back into agriculture and organics-real or myth, are the problems that keep him up at night.

“These problems aren’t easy to deal with, or else they’d been solved already,” Hogan said.

Hogan said the Texas ag department, with a nearly $600 billion budget, could add another desalinization plant to help Texas’ water and drought woes.

“El Paso already has one,” he said. “In West Texas, we could drill down 6,000 feet and hit salt water. The University of Texas has already done a study about this.”

Additionally, Hogan wants young people to get excited about farming again.

He’s worried about the takeover of large corporate farms.

“Back in the day, there was competition so farmers could sell their crops or milk to different companies and get different prices,” Hogan said. “Now, there is more of a monopoly on the market and it’s not as easy for the little guy. I don’t think you want corporations to raise your food, because they don’t care what you eat.”

FR: OK. Let’s look at the three names on the ballot. Miller, that’s a basic name. Hogan, that’s a good name. Blocker? I don’t know. Sounds like he’s a football player.

HOGAN: Ok, here’s something for you to play with. Get yourself a piece of paper. Put Texas Agriculture Commissioner on the top of it. Then write Sid Miller, and then Trey Block and then Jim Hogan, and then go into a Whataburger or wherever you want to go and say, “Ma’am,” or “Sir, can I talk to you for a minute? Who is the governor of Texas?’ And only two out of ten will know. You will be surprised.

FR: Wait, am I asking who of these three they want to be the governor of Texas?

HOGAN: No, you’re just asking them who’s the governor of Texas. That will get them thinking, thinking. Some of them will get it right and some won’t.

OK, then, “Do you know who the Texas agriculture commissioner is?’

If they know, the game won’t work. But if they don’t know you go, `OK, there’s three names on this page, which one would you pick?’ The biggest thing they’ll say is, “I won’t pick any of them, I don’t know nothing about them.’ So you go, `Do you know who the attorney general is, do you know who the land commissioner is, do you know who the railroad commissioner is.” No? “Well, here’s three names, just pick one, I’m trying to prove a point. Which name, if you didn’t know anything about them, would you pick?’ And if they do, they’ll pick mine about 70 percent of the time.

FR: Why?

HOGAN: I don’t know.

FR: How do you know that’s true?

HOGAN: Because I’ve done it over and over and over again. Sid is second and Trey is last.

FR: Well, I guess Blocker’s not a good name, unless you’re a Bonanza fan.

FR: Wait, before we stop with the game, does everybody get to go to step two, or is just those who won’t know who the governor is.

HOGAN: No, I keep going.

FR: So why do ask that question about the governor to begin with?

HOGAN: It breaks the ice. When you ask them about the governor it gets their attention and settles them down.

My name’s picked the most, then Sid Miller and then Trey Blocker.

And you ask why, I don’t know why.

Jim Hogan just sounds like a nice guy. It’s a nice name.

Some, with Sid Miller, say, “Is that an Amish name?”

OK, I thought, this is just a non sequitur.

But, from Amish Facts:

10 Common Amish Surnames
Posted on May 8, 2013 in Amish Facts
Certain Amish surnames occur with great frequency. Here are ten of the most common:

1. Miller-the most common of all Amish last names.  Joseph Stoll writes: “The German spelling was Müller, and because there were many Millers in Europe, the name was very common, with no common ancestor for many people of this name. There were a number of Anabaptists of this name in different parts of Switzerland.”  Miller is most common in the Midwest; a few Millers may be found in Lancaster County, however.

Back to …

HOGAN: Occasionally someone will pick Trey Blocker, and I’ll ask why, and they’ll say “Trey sounds like a young kid, I pick him because he’s probably young.”

So, I said, based on your Whataburger polling, this race sounds more winnable than the last one.

HOGAN: No, the last are was more winnable. There’s too much money here – $1.3 million.”

I think Trey’s more confident than Sid, because Sid’s lost before so he knows how it feels.

I have hope that I have a chance.

It so happens that the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll is out today, with results that are the reverse of Hogan’s Whataburger survey, but, sufficiently fluid, and with Hogan well-positioned to execute his sleeper strategy adn sneak into the runoff and Miller and Blocker spend all that money bloodying one another.

As our interview drew to a close, I mentioned Karina Kling the host of Capital Tonight and an important contributor to the annals of Hogan coverage.

HOGAN: You know I gave her a watermelon last year, did you know that? You know I raise watermelons, did you knew that?

FR: Yeah, I guess.

HOGAN: I went down and took about six or seven watermelons in my pick-up. I stopped at Round Rock to watch the Rangers Triple-A team. Next day I got up and took a watermelon down to Karina, and I gave one to the photographer and the girl that was down there, I gave her one. She was from Glen Rose.

Erica Grieder?

Chris Hooks, and now Erica Grieder?

Well, yes.

HOGAN: I got a watermelon for Erica Greider but she was no longer working for the Texas Monthly, so I had two or three extra, and I was driving by the Capitol building and I seen Sid. And I honked at him and said, “Hey,” and he kept walking and I said, “Sid, hold it a minute.” And I said, “You want a watermelon?”and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “I’ll bring one  up in a minute.” And I lugged one up the stairs, and then the lady in the lobby said she wanted one and I said, soon as I get done I’ll bring you one and boy was she happy.

I took a watermelon down to Karina.

I got a watermelon for Erica Grieder.

Superb opposition research, a shiv applied with a light Will Rogers’ touch.

Perfect post-partisan populist pitch.

Whataburger analytics.

Inhabitor of Chris Hooks’ uneasy dreams.

Homespun Hogan, some Hayseed from Cleburne?

Don’t believe it.