White guy pretends to be black to win election
Dave Wilson, a conservative white Republican, figured he had little chance of winning a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. After all, his opponent was black, a 24-year incumbent named Bruce Austin. And the vast majority of voters were black Democrats.
But the results from Tuesday's election are now in -- and Wilson won. "I'd always said it was a long shot. No, I didn't expect to win," he told Houston's KHOU news channel.
Wilson, an anti-gay activist and former fringe candidate for mayor, said he ran for the school board's seat because he was upset with "all the shenanigans" in the Houston Community College System. Yet he faced a daunting challenge as a white Republican in Houston's inner city
What to do? He played dirty. In campaign fliers and mailings, he implied he was black. Some mailings showed black voters endorsing him -- yet Wilson later admitted he'd pulled the photos from the Internet. His opponent called this and other deceptive ads "disgusting." But Wilson rationalized his deceit, pointing out that "Every time a politician talks, he's out there deceiving voters." And so Wilson won by a razor-thin margin -- 26 votes -- by essentially engaging in the sort of identify politics that Democrats have specialized in for years.
Houston's news media seemed to take two opposing views of the wacky election. Houston Chronicle Blogger Charles Kuffner was clearly upset, writing: "Dave Wilson is a terrible person who has no business being on any elected body, and he has zero qualifications for this job. He's been running for various things lately just to be a pain in the ass, and it looks like this time in a low information, low turnout race, he managed to win."
But KHOU seemed chagrined by Wilson's win, which it called "one of the biggest political upsets in Houston politics this election season."
So were black voters really as stupid as this story would suggest, and as bigoted as Wilson had presumed? KHOU's online report raised some doubts. "I suspect it's more than just race," said Bob Stein, a KHOU analyst and Rice University political science professor. "The Houston Community College was under some criticism for bad performance. And others on the board also had very serious challenges."