Everybody wants a nickname
Texas law allows political candidates to be called by a nickname on the ballot. And apparently everyone wants a nickname. Chris Bell is actually R. Christopher Bell, Rick Perry's real name is James Richard Perry, and Kinky Friedman isn't known by anyone as Richard.
As probably everyone reading this knows, Carole Keeton Strayhorn apparently wants to be on the ballot as Carole Keeton Grandma Strayhorn. She's never been on the ballot as Strayhorn before. Last time she was Carole Keeton Rylander.
Is Grandma a nickname? Or a slogan? Secretary of State Roger Williams says slogan, but is giving her a chance to prove otherwise:
"It appears that your use of the term 'Grandma' within your name constitutes a slogan," Williams said in a letter to Strayhorn, explaining that the Texas Election Code bans the use of a slogan as a nickname.
He asked Strayhorn to provide any information to verify that "Grandma" doesn't constitute a political slogan. Secretary of State's Office spokesman Scott Haywood noted that "Grandma" even appeared on the campaign letterhead Strayhorn used in asking that her name be listed as "Carole Keeton 'Grandma' Strayhorn" on the ballot.
Strayhorn calls herself "one tough grandma" and says she's been known by the nickname since being elected Texas comptroller in 1998. Strayhorn ran as a Republican for that office, but opted out of the GOP primary this year against Perry to run for governor as an independent.
At an unrelated news conference Friday afternoon, Strayhorn said she has been known as "Grandma" for more than 11 years and said people call her that everywhere she goes.
"I am not a slogan. I am a grandma," she said, displaying a photo of her newest granddaughter.
Seems to me that there are several categories of nicknames here:
1) Middle names commonly used as a first name, eg Perry or Bell.
2) Nicknames derived from the name, eg Junior.
3) Nicknames not related to name in anyway, eg Kinky Friedman.
I fall into the third category, so I have some familiarity here. Evan isn't my real name, although nobody knows me by my real name, and only close friends could probably tell you my real name. If you were to call me my real name, I wouldn't respond because I'd assume you weren't talking to me. These sorts of complications can occasionally get annoying.
It's tough for me to see how Strayhorn will convince Roger Williams (or a court, depending perhaps on the standard of review) that Grandma is a name. It seems like a slogan to me. I've never heard her referred to as "Grandma" outside of "One Tough Grandma," which seems to be undeniably a slogan (and a very effective one at that). Thus I'd conclude she probably won't be on the ballot as Grandma. That's a shame for her, because it is something that voters connect with her.
On the other hand, I think you should be able to get on the ballot as anything you want, under the 1st Amendment.
<em>Kinky Friedman isn't known by anyone as Richard</em>
Funnily enough, I just finished reading a novel by Jonathan Kellerman called "Therapy". In it was a reference to Charles Whitman, and to the song written about him by "Richard Friedman". I got a good laugh out of that.
nicknames have no place on the ballot.
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