Victor Carrillo, a Republican incumbent for who ran for reelection to Railroad Commission, believes he lost the primary to a relative unknown, David Porter, solely because of voter prejudice based on his Hispanic name. Some analysts we've spoken to today agree, though Porter called such notions "absurd." Carillo just released a frank letter to supporters, excerpted here:
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.