White Candidate Wins Texas Election by Pretending He's Black
Houston board candidate uses excuse that politicians lie every time they speak to defend his deceptive campaign.
By Chris Hoenig
How does a conservative, white Republican win an election in a district overwhelmingly made up of Black Democrats? He pretends he's one of them.
Dave Wilson did just that to win a six-year term on the Houston Community College System's board, misleading voters into believing that he is Black. "I'd always said it was a long shot," Wilson tells KHOU-TV. "No, I didn't expect to win." But he did, and he went to great lengths to do it.
Wilson sent out fliers that featured almost exclusively Black people, all of them smiling. On it, he added the call to action: "Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson." Only the faces are not Wilson's friends or neighbors, but rather just pictures that he stole off of various websites.
Another flier proudly announced his endorsement by Ron Wilson, suggesting a Black former state legislator who is well known in the area. Beneath the endorsement announcement, a disclaimer is printed: "Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins," it reads. Except the Ron Wilson that Dave Wilson is talking about is not that Ron Wilson, who suffered a stroke in 2009 that left him barely able to speak and may never have heard of Dave Wilson.
Dave Wilson does indeed have a cousin named Ron Wilson, and this Ron Wilson did endorse Dave Wilson's campaign ... from Iowa, where he lives. "He's a nice cousin," Wilson says, suppressing a laugh. "We played baseball in high school together. And he's endorsed me."
The plan worked and Wilson beat 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin, who is Black, by just 26 votes. "I don't think it's good," Austin said, adding that the campaign caught him off guard. "I don't think it's good for both democracy and the whole concept of fair play. But that was not his intent, apparently." Austin said he did counter with his own mailers that included Wilson's face and warned voters that he was a "right-wing hatemonger" who "advocated bringing back chain gangs to clean highways." He plans to ask for a recount, though there is little chance that the results will change.
Wilson says his lies were really no different than any other lawmaker's lies. "Every time a politician talks, he's out there deceiving voters," Wilson admits. And some analysts say Austin was done in because of insider business deals and expensive overseas expenditures, which forced other incumbents into runoffs. "I suspect it's more than just race," says Bob Stein, the Rice University political scientist and KHOU analyst. "The Houston Community College was under some criticism for bad performance. And others on the board also had very serious challenges."
"Do not assume you are properly registered to vote," warns activist Shaun King.
"Do not assume you are properly registered to vote," warned Shaun King repeatedly. His wife went to vote with her registration card in her hand, and they said she couldn't vote. King said some of the reasons that people are being turned away are nefarious.
Fifteen states close registration today, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. States that do not have online registration: Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas.
A list of every state's deadline and links to each state's voting requirements was published by the New York Times.
The decision "is a triumph, not just for the people of Randolph County, but for every Georgian," said Stacey Abrams, Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia.
A Georgia elections board on Friday blocked a bid to close most polling places in Randolph County, a largely Black county, after critics called it a blatant attempt to undercut Stacey Abrams, who could become the country's first Black woman governor.
Trump's administration, again, attempts to downplay the accomplishments of the first Black president.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted Tuesday evening on Twitter that she gave false information when attempting to tout President Trump's record on job creation for Black Americans.
Sanders told reporters, Tuesday, during a White House press briefing:
"This president, since he took office, created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans. After eight years of President Obama in office, he only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans. President Trump, in his first year and a half, has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years."
She greatly undercounted the number of jobs created under Obama.
According to the official count from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the Great Recession, most of the employment gains for Black people took place during the Obama administration.
From January 2009 to January 2017, Obama increased employment for Black Americans by about 3 million jobs.
"Sanders' error dramatically alters the comparison between the two presidents," according to PolitiFact.
"Rather than Trump tripling Obama's increase in African-American employment, it is actually Obama who in eight years quadrupled the increase Trump oversaw in a year and a half. And Obama had to deal with the fall-out from the Great Recession during that period."
After the backlash from Sanders' statement, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said in a tweet: "Apologies for @WhiteHouseCEA's earlier miscommunication to @PressSec."
Sanders then re-tweeted the CEA, adding her own message:
Correction from today's briefing: Jobs numbers for Pres Trump and Pres Obama were correct, but the time frame for Pres Obama wasn't. I'm sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African Americans created under President Trump https://t.co/EXGvbliwlS
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) August 15, 2018
In interviews with a dozen women, mostly Republicans, in the Midwestern state's 12th Congressional District, several said they would buck their voting habits to support the Democratic candidate on Aug. 7.
(Reuters) — Becky von Zastrow often votes Republican in her affluent central Ohio suburb — but her dissatisfaction with U.S. President Donald Trump has convinced her to back the Democrat in a special-election test for both parties next month.
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