The surprise winner of a Texas election has been criticized for misleading the mainly black constituents into believing he was African American.

Dave Wilson, a white Republican and anti-gay activist, beat Houston’s 24-year incumbent Bruce Austin in what has been described as a ‘racially tinged campaign’.

Mr Wilson won with a margin of 26 after he campaigned using flyers featuring African Americans and the message ‘Vote for our neighbor Dave Wilson’.

‘I’d always said it was a long shot. I didn’t expect to win,’ the former fringe candidate told KHOU.

His flyers, designed using pictures he had found on the internet, also claimed he had been endorsed by Ron Wilson for the Houston community college seat.

Many in the area could have been led to believe the endorsement was from the former African-American state representative but the small print stated the Ron Wilson in question was the candidate’s cousin.

‘He’s a nice cousin,’ Mr Wilson told KHOU as he held back a laugh. ‘We played baseball in high school together. And he’s endorsed me.’

Political scientists have said it is unlikely that Mr Wilson’s flyers would have had much impact on his campaign, but the Democrat he unseated was not impressed.

‘I don’t think it’s good for both democracy and the whole concept of fair play. But that was not his intent, apparently,’ Mr Austin said.

He tried to counter the campaign by releasing flyers showing Mr Wilson and labeling him a ‘right-wing hate-monger’.

Mr Austin said he intends to call for a recount but analysts believe Mr Wilson’s victory will be upheld, putting him in office for six years.

Bob Stein, political scientist at Rice University, said however that the community college system covered by the election had come under intense scrutiny for insider deals and overseas spending.

He added that after 24 years in office, Mr Austin’s name should have been familiar to voters too.

‘I suspect it’s more than just race. The Houston Community College was under some criticism for bad performance. And others on the board also had very serious challenges,’ he said.

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