“This is one of the few times a white guy has pretended to be a black guy and fooled black people,” longtime incumbent Bruce Austin told the Houston Chronicle about the man who unseated him from the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. Dave Wilson said he was surprised by his success, but he’s not sorry for campaign ads falsely suggesting to voters in a predominantly African-American district that he was black. “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters,” he said in an interview with KHOU Houston.
Wilson, a white Republican, mailed out fliers with generic images pulled from the Internet of smiling black people, with messages such as, “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” One of the fliers included an endorsement from “Ron Wilson,” the name of a former black representative in Texas—with the fine-print explanation that “Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins.” Wilson explained to KHOU that his cousin Ron, who lives in Iowa, had happily agreed to endorse him.
Wilson, who said he decided to enter the race because he was disgusted by “all the shenanigans” of the community-college system, also ran a radio ad depicting a conversation between two black women about the race: “That Bruce Austin voted against $6 million in scholarships for our children, right here in our neighborhood, but he voted to spend $45 million in the foreign country of Qatar,” says one woman in the ad. “Girl, please, I bet he has relatives who could have used some of that scholarship money he voted against,” she continues. “Dave Wilson is the man who’s fighting for our neighborhoods.”
The race was a squeaker: Wilson won by just 26 votes, and Austin, who has sat on the board since 1989, is demanding a recount. Austin attempted to counter Wilson’s ad campaign by sending out fliers of his own with Wilson’s picture, calling him a “right wing hate monger.”
“He never put out to voters that he was white,” Austin told the Houston Chronicle; Wilson “called Austin’s remarks racist,” according to the Chronicle.