LatinaLista –Incumbent Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo should have won his bid this week for re-election, but he didn’t.
In fact, he was soundly beaten — 61%-39%.
Who was his opponent?
A man by the name of Porter. According to Carrillo, that says it all.
Though Carrillo spent $600,000 on his re-election campaign to Porter’s admitted $50,000, Porter won handily.
Incumbent Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo
How is that possible? Especially when this was Porter’s first run for public office and has no qualifications for the job other than doing tax returns for oil and gas companies due to him being a CPA.
Carrillo thinks it’s because Porter is not Hispanic.
In an e-mail to supporters and media after his loss, it’s clear that Carrillo is still in shock at losing and trying to understand how Porter beat him so soundly. Carrillo believes there’s only one answer:
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.
GOP public reaction to Carrillo’s reason for losing has been predictable — accusing him of pulling the race card just because he lost.
Yet, if ever there was a clear case study of just how much white public opinion has deteriorated when it comes regarding Latinos, this is it.
It’s also the best example of how the Republican Party is doing little to help promote or grow Hispanic politicians within their ranks.
As much as critics of the race card excuse would like to think that Carrillo has no basis for his rationale, it’s obvious they’re too busy trying to discredit him rather than looking at the facts.
The most glaring fact is that in the last election, Carrillo was able to garner 4 million statewide votes. This time, he only got 673,945 votes on election day.
What changed between then and now with Texas GOP voters?
A steep rise in anti-Hispanic sentiment perpetuated by GOP politicians, ultra-right Conservatives, conservative talk radio hosts and the budding Tea Party.
Carrillo was right when he said there is a built-in bias among white GOP voters in Texas — the proof is in the election.
It wasn’t just Carrillo’s race that suffered such a reversal of fortune. Another Latino GOP incumbent, Felipe Reyna, Justice, 10th Court of Appeals District, Place 3 got only 32% of the vote on election day; his opponent, Al Scoggins received 68%.
That’s a big difference in votes.
Curious to see if other Latino GOP politicians suffered the same fate, a quick scan of the 2010 Republican Party Primary Election Night Returns reveals that in every race on election day where a Latino or Latino-sounding name and an Anglo were running against one another, the Anglo won.
In fact, the Anglo won by a landslide:
U. S. Representative District 28
Daniel Chavez 26.06%
Bryan Underwood 73.93%
State Senator, District 19
Dick Bowen 73.5%
Robert Sol Mayer 26.49%
State Representative District 74
Yolanda Sotelo Garza 23.11%
Thomas (T.C.) Kincaid, Jr. 76.88%
State Representative District 119
Juan J. Hinojosa 32.79%
Michael E. Holdman 67.2%
The 3-way and 4-way races that had at least one Latino GOP candidate fared better and with the exception of a couple where the Latino GOP candidate won the race against Anglo challengers, it seems that in those races where the voters didn’t know the candidates, the Latino candidate received less than 8% of the vote in some of those races.
In fairness, results of the Democratic Primary were also checked.
In every two-person race between a Democratic Latino and Anglo candidate, the Latino candidate won — with the exception of one race.
State Representative District 27
Dora Olivo – Incumbent 42.35%
Ron Reynolds 57.64%
It’s a 15% difference in votes, much lower than the 22% difference found in Carrillo’s race and the other GOP races. Also, as to be expected for whatever reason, there was much, much less diversity among the GOP candidates.
In each of the races where the Anglo candidate won overwhelmingly (receiving 20% or more of the vote) against their Latino opponent, it’s obvious the voters were saying something.
Not that one candidate was better qualified than the other – because chances are they didn’t even know anything about either candidate – but that one candidate fit the profile of what these voters think a GOP candidate should be — white.