Dave Wilson is white. But to win a seat on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees in a district predominantly comprised of African-American voters, Wilson, a conservative Republican, led voters to believe he was black.
According to CBS affiliate KHOU-TV, Wilson's direct mail campaign included a flier with smiling black faces he says he found on the Internet. "Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson," the accompanying text read.
In another flier, the text said he had been endorsed by Ron Wilson, a popular black former state representative. But the Ron Wilson who endorsed him was Dave's cousin Ron, not the ex-lawmaker.
"He's a nice cousin," Wilson told the network, chuckling. "We played baseball in high school together."
Nevermind his cousin lives in Bloomfield, Iowa, some 940 miles from Houston.
On Tuesday, Wilson defeated Bruce Austin, the 24-year incumbent, by a margin of just 26 votes.
Austin, who is African-American, called Wilson's tactics "disgusting."
"I don't think it's good for both democracy and the whole concept of fair play," he said.
"He never put out to voters that he was white," Austin said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle. "This is one of the few times a white guy has pretended to be a black guy and fooled black people."
But Wilson, who won a six-year term on the nine-member board, is unapologetic.
"Every time a politician talks, he's out there deceiving voters," Wilson said.
Austin said he would seek a recount, but Bob Stein, a political scientist at Rice University, believes the vote will stand.
"I suspect it's more than just race," Stein said. "The Houston Community College was under some criticism for bad performance. And others on the board also had very serious challenges."