The GOP's Racism Problem

Defeated railroad commissioner points out the elephant in the room

Defeated Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo
Defeated Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo (image from www.rrc.state.tx.us)

It's unfortunately too common for a failed political candidate who happens to be a racial minority to play the race card. But when Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo did it today, he made a pretty good point.

I've covered many a political race, and I can tell you with certainty: Unknown candidates with no funds who do no campaigning simply do not handily whip an established incumbent … unless some other factor is in play. Perhaps that other factor is an incumbent under indictment or conviction. Perhaps it's that the candidate has displayed staggering incompetence.

But those factors weren't involved here. No, the only thing out of place here was Carrillo's non-Anglo name on the GOP ballot. And as the Statesman's editorial page rightly pointed out today, it isn't the first time this has happened – they reminded us of Stephen Wayne Smith's defeat of Supreme Court Justice Xavier Rodriguez in 2002. Smith, predictably, went on to be a truly horrible judge.

Read Carrillo's letter below and judge for yourself:

Dear Family, Friends, Colleagues, Supporters: As you now surely know, last night I was defeated (61% / 39%) in my statewide Republican Primary by my opponent, David Porter. Porter, an unknown, no-campaign, no-qualification CPA from Midland residing in Giddings filed on the last day that he could file while I was waiting in Abilene to bury my dad. He has never held any elected office, has no geoscience, industry, or legal experience other than doing tax returns for oil and gas companies.

I was handily defeated in spite of spending over $600,000 to do the following:
1) Distribute two direct mail pieces to almost 500,000 Republican primary households;
2) Run a 60-second radio spot on TX State Radio Network, supplemented by key conservative talk and Christian radio stations;
3) Run ads in several targeted newspapers;
4) RoboCalls to thousands of “Independent” households;
5) Distribute election push cards, website, Facebook page, bumper stickers, letter writing;
6) Actively campaign in-person by my campaign staff and me.

Early polling showed that the typical GOP primary voter has very little info about the position of Railroad Commissioner, what we do, or who my opponent or I were. Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” – unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias. I saw it last time but was able to win because the “non-Carrillo” vote was spread among three Anglo GOP primary opponents instead of just one. Also, the political dynamics have changed some since 2004.

Many of you have begun to call and/or write to express your concern over the whole situation. You are correct to be concerned over the fact that the GOP (our party) still has these tendencies to not be able to elect or retain highly qualified candidates who WANT to continue serving the public as I do. It is indeed a shame. Nevertheless, I refuse to walk away in shame because I know that my team and I did just about all we could have done to ensure that the primary electorate knew of my qualifications, expertise, and experience. The rest was beyond my control. I also urge party leaders to not alienate the Hispanic/Latino voter in Texas, as we now comprise about 39% of the population and we remain the fastest-growing minority group in the nation.

However, none of you should be concerned about me and my family or my staff. Justin, my dedicated chief of staff and former student, gave up an excellent position to come back to help me through a most difficult time in my personal life with regard to my health and campaign. He remains a trusted friend and advisor and I will do all I can to ensure that he and his dear family are well positioned to allow his true, full potential to shine.

As for me and my family, I have learned much over the last several months of personal tragedy – after my own brain surgery/recovery, the death of my half-brother at Thanksgiving, and the death of my Dad (my best friend) in January:

THE SPECIFIC OUTCOME OF MY PATH IN LIFE IS NOT IN MY CONTROL, BUT WHOLLY IN THE MERCIFUL HANDS OF MY LORD & SAVIOR. HE, BEING SOVEREIGN, KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR ME & HE ALONE REMAINS IN FULL CONTROL! AS FOR ME, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!
So please don’t fret over my situation! God has known my path from before the beginning of time and He guides my path and I am fully confident that He will work things out for His ultimate glory! I do, however, seek your continued prayers for my wife (Joy) and my daughters (Laura, Christina, Grace), that they not overly worry about our future. I also covet your ongoing prayers for my 86-year old mother (Alicia), who continues to grieve the loss of her firstborn son and my dad within a six-week time period.

Sincerely,
Victor Carrillo

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Elections, Election 2010, Victor Carrillo, David Porter

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