Commentary: When a Texas candidate's ethnicity and voter ignorance collide

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 12, 2010 

Hurst Republican Lenny Lopez figured he'd get an earful from voters when he ran against a popular Tarrant County justice of the peace.

But there was one word he never expected to hear:


Born in Brooklyn to parents from the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Lopez is as American as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor or — no relation — Jennifer Lopez.

Yet when he campaigned outside Young Junior High School in Arlington, he says, a tall voter walked up to him with a loud message:

"I would not vote for a Mexican from south of the border!"

In an election where Railroad Commission Chairman Victor Carrillo, an Abilene Republican, was upset by little-known Midland accountant David Porter, and where District Judge Ruben Gonzalez Jr., a Fort Worth Republican, lost to lawyer Tom Zachry, Texas Republicans seemed to vote against Hispanic surnames.

Gonzalez, a former Air Force intelligence officer, tells sadly of a man who took one look at his campaign handout, frowned and spit.

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