White Houston Candidate Denies Leading Voters Into Thinking He’s Black

A white candidate who won a local election in a largely black district in Houston denied Monday that he used campaign mailers to mislead voters into thinking he is black.

Dave Wilson, an anti-gay activist, beat a black incumbent named Bruce Austin last week for a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. Austin told the Houston Chronicle that his opponent purposely left photos of himself off campaign materials in order to deceive voters.

“He never put out to voters that he was white,” Austin told the Chronicle. “The problem is his picture was not in the League of Voters (pamphlet) or anywhere. This is one of the few times a white guy has pretended to be black guy and fooled black people.”

Wilson’s campaign mailers featured photos of smiling black men and women, according to Houston TV Station KHOU. One mailer also touted an endorsement from the candidate’s cousin “Ron Wilson,” which voters may have taken to be an endorsement from a former state representative by the same name, who is black.

In an interview with CNN, Wilson said he pulled those photos for his campaign materials from the internet, calling it “target marketing” for the district. He denied it amounted to deception.

“I didn’t put my picture out there because I wanted to stick with the issues,” he told CNN.

“I did not want race to be the deciding factor,” he added.

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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