White Guy Wins Election by Pretending to Be Black

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 11 2013 5:48 PM

White Guy Wins Election by Pretending to Be Black

The entire Internet seems to be ripping off this KHOU story about Dave Wilson, an anti-gay campaigner in Houston who won a six-year term on the Houston Community College System by giving every indication that, like most of the district, he was a black guy.

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A lot of people seem to be skipping past the factor that made this close at all—the system had been scandalized all year, stoking an anti-incumbent vote. But the "white guy who voters might think is black" phenomenon is not unique to Houston. Longtime D.C. voters will remember the epic 2010 campaign of "White Mike" Brown, aka Michael A. Brown, the caucusian politician whose middle initial disappeared during the campaign. Cynics/people who paid attention wondered whether Brown was trying to dupe voters into thinking he was Michael D. Brown, the black city councilman. Late-game campaign signs just straight-up published Brown's white face, warning votes not to be "fooled," and Brown lost.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.