Farouk Shami enters TX governor's race

November 19, 2009 5:46:21 PM PST
He's best known for his high-end hair products. Now the maker of the Chi hair iron has made it official that he wants to be the next governor of Texas. For a political rookie, Farouk Shami certainly knows how to kick off a campaign. Shami says he will use $10 million of his own money for his campaign and he's already claiming that he has supporters all across the state.

"Let's live the American dream," Shami told supporters.

A giant tent with tons of balloons, signs, shirts, babies on the bandwagon and a candidate who certainly learned fast how to deliver a political speech. Even how to capitalize on President Barack Obama's odd name and political success.

"That's the man who did not let a strange name or an unconventional upbringing stand in his way. He believed in hope," said Shami.

He does have some instant credibility. He is a successful businessman who recently hired 1,200 people to work in his new north Houston factory and warehouse. Shami says he will take no special interest donations and pledges to spend money from his personal fortune to win the democratic primary.

"What does it take to run this state? A businessman who can balance the budget, who can innovate, who is a problem-solver," said Shami.

But this will be a tough campaign for a man who until now was known as a hair product billionaire. He has no political experience, and voting records show Shami didn't vote at all from 2004 until the election two weeks ago. The only Texas political primary Shami ever voted in was as a Republican nine years ago.

"I regret that. I wasn't focused on politics. I was focused on my business all the time," said Shami.

He is however running as a Democrat in Texas this year and enters a field not exactly full of frontrunners. Dallas businessman Tom Schieffer and Kinky Friedman are probably the best-known candidates, but starting today they aren't the best funded anymore.

Shami's campaign will start running the first television ad of the governor's race across the state on Friday.

"I don't think he has much of a chance of winning," said KTRK political analyst Dr. Richard Murray.

Our political analyst isn't exactly giving him a great chance which is as much a comment on the state of Texas Democrats as it is on Shami's unlikely campaign.

"It shows that even though the Democrats have some success locally, across the state they're still in bad shape," said Dr. Murray.

Democrats may have a tough time winning next November, but they certainly will make it interesting. One other possibility is that of Houston Mayor Bill White abandoning the race for the Senate in order to enter the governor's race, but his campaign has said they're not interested in Austin.


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