The result of this election is amusing. Bruce Austin is the 24 year incumbent board member of the Houston Community College System. He is an African American guy. Dave Wilson is an anti-gay Right Wing Republican white guy. They ran in a predominantly African American district for the board position.
Dave Wilson, the white guy, sent out mailers with smiling pictures of African American families without his picture. On his material he also indicated that he was endorsed by Ron Wilson, a cousin. The deception is that Ron Wilson is a very well-known African American politician in the district.
Bruce Austin seemed to have been caught off guard and began sending the counter mailers with a picture of Dave Wilson, the white guy. He also included his rap sheet.
calling him a "right-wing hate monger" and saying he "advocated bringing back chain gangs to clean highways." But the campaign clearly caught him off guard. [KHOU]
Ultimately, Dave Wilson, the Caucasian guy, won the election by 26 votes. Mr. Austin said that he will ask for a recount. He also said he does not think this is good for democracy. Mr. Wilson shows no remorse for his deceptive mailers. He said that politicians deceive voters every time they speak.
White Guy Deceiving Black Voters?
There are many assumptions here. Mr. Wilson made the assumption that because he was running in a black district he had to make the citizens believe he was African American to win the election. Mr. Austin made the assumption that highlighting that Mr. Wilson is Caucasian and stating he was a right-wing hate monger would get him his win.
The reality is that they were both likely wrong. It is insulting to blacks to assume that pigmentation plays a decisive role in candidate selection. The reality is that minorities have a much harder time getting whites to vote for them than the converse. The recent mayoral race in Detroit proves this. 82% of Detroit is African American, yet they elected a white mayor. He earned their votes with the policies he is proposing.
One wonders whether the voters wanted to vote out the 24 year incumbent on a troubled school board. Given the values of the community, it is unlikely that Wilson would have been their choice. One wonders whether Mr. Austin simply took his constituents for granted.
"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." [KHOU]
Is the closeness of the election a result of people flocking back to Mr. Austin after they figured out that the other guy was a Right Winger? Or was the closeness of the vote based on frustration with an incumbent in a troubled system? The most important lesson is that one must know who they are voting for on elections one considers consequential.