Published December 20, 2015
A white Texas Republican pulled off an upset victory last week in a heavily-minority Democratic district -- with an unapologetic campaign that implied he is black.
“Nobody was shocked more than me,” winner Dave Wilson told a local TV station after defeating a 24-year incumbent for a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees.
Incumbent Bruce Austin is crying foul and says he wants a recount, after losing by 26 votes. But the reasons for his defeat appear to go beyond political hardball. The board -- whose members have been notorious for using their influence to steer government contracts to friends and family -- has shown signs of returning to its old ways.
And, Wilson says, he snatched away the election in part because Austin expected to win without campaigning.
But the electrician-turned-politician also used campaign flyers with images of black people that he says he found on the Internet and touted an endorsement from his Midwestern cousin Ron Wilson -- who happens to have the same name as a former black state representative from the Houston area. (Wilson made the distinction clear in the fine print of his campaign flyers.)
Wilson’s campaign website includes several photos of black people and his own biography -- which notes him having a son who served in Afghanistan, but does not appear to include a picture of Wilson.
Wilson also aired a radio ad featuring two "neighborhood" women discussing Wilson's political merits.
“That Bruce Austin voted against $6 million in scholarships or our children right here in our neighborhood,” one woman says. “Girl, please, I bet he has relatives that could have used some of that scholarship money he voted against. I’ve had about enough of him ... Dave Wilson is the man who is fighting for our neighborhoods.”