White Man Wins Election in African-American Community by Pretending He’s Black
Wilson was running for a seat on the Houston Community College System board. He's a conservative Republican (and white), in a district that is predominantly Democratic and black. He was running against an incumbent of 24 years and didn't expect to win. Which is what spurred his idea to take his race out of the equation.
Wilson printed direct mail pieces strongly implying that he's black. His fliers were decorated with photographs of smiling African-American faces — which he readily admits he just lifted off websites — and captioned with the words “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.”
Technically, he didn't say he was black. He also made a deceitful use of fine print.
One of his mailers said he was “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” which longtime Houston voters might easily interpret as a statement of support from a former state representative of the same name who's also African-American. Fine print beneath the headline says “Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins,” a reference to one of Wilson's relatives living in Iowa.
His opponent, Bruce Austin, was less than pleased with the move.
“I don't think it's good,” he said. “I don't think it's good for both democracy and the whole concept of fair play. But that was not his intent, apparently.”
The tactic worked. Wilson won a seat on the board by just 26 votes. Austin has asked for a recount, but the results are expected to stand.