The 169,574 signatures were more than 3 1/2 times the number needed to get Friedman's name on the ballot in November, but they still must be verified, state officials said.

The Texas secretary of state, Roger Williams, has said it will take several weeks to ensure at least 45,540 of the signatures, or the minimum number needed to get on the ballot, come from qualified voters.

Friedman's campaign manager, Dean Barkley, who ran former wrestler Jesse Ventura's successful independent campaign for Minnesota governor in 1998, said the Friedman camp had independently verified the signatures.

Friedman, who always wears a black cowboy hat and Western clothes, stood on the steps of Williams' office on Thursday and told 150 supporters that the signatures he delivered came from every corner of the state.

"Thank God for bars and dance halls," he said. "Every signature counts, whether it came from a country club or homeless shelter."

Crossing lines

Friedman is conducting an irreverent campaign that includes a lot of humorous one-liners, but also appears to be a serious run for the office once held by the US president, George Bush. 

His positions on controversial issues cross philosophical lines to include support for school prayer ,but also support for gay marriage.

"Why shouldn't they be as miserable as the rest of us?" he says.

Friedman's supporters waved signs on Thursday that said such things as "Down with the Status Quo" and "My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy."

Musical background

Friedman rose to prominence in the 1970s as musician with his group Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, and later became a writer of mystery novels with titles such as Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola, and Love Song of J Edgar Hoover.

Polls have indicated that Friedman has 10% to 21% support, but Barkley told reporters that polls in what was expected to be a race with four major candidates were notoriously unreliable.

The last poll before Ventura's surprise victory suggested that he was 11 points behind, Barkley said.

State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn - a Republican who used to be a Democrat - is also running as an independent, and on Tuesday turned in 223,000 signatures to get her name on the ballot.

"Of course she's got more signatures. She's got all ex-husbands there," Friedman said, referring to Strayhorn's checkered matrimonial past.

Already assured places on the ballot are the governor, Rick Perry, a Republican running for re-election, and Democratic candidate Chris Bell, a former US congressman.