Political Identity Crisis

Ronald Green's the only black Democrat left on the city ballot. Or is he?

As for the support of KSEV, Green says he never asked for it and views it more as an anti-Bert Keller sentiment than an endorsement of his campaign.

"I've never listened to that radio station, so I've never heard these people say this kind of stuff. And that may just be political ignorance on my part."

Green recites his support for a host of issues dear to area Democrats, including Metro's rail plan, an antidiscrimination ordinance and insurance benefits for domestic partners of gay municipal employees. Green says Keller is attacking him in radio ads on those issues, "but that's what I believe."

While Green says he has never represented himself as a Republican or a conservative in his campaigning, veteran Houston political consultant Mary Jane Smith disagrees vehemently. She claims she met Green at a Republican gathering during the campaign, where he was wooing conservatives.

She says she asked him about the drainage fee, and he indicated he would never have voted for it.

"You would like the way I vote," she recalls Green saying. "He went on telling me how Republican he was, how conservative he was -- that he would be voting with all those other conservatives on council."

Smith was angry at Keller at the time, and says she began telling all her GOP friends, "Let's go with this guy. Green's the man. Tell everybody that."

According to Smith, she later learned that Green was giving Democratic women's groups the opposite message: that he was a loyal party member and did not seek the endorsement of KSEV or other conservatives.

"Green lied to me," claims Smith, "and you know, I can't stand a liar. Bert Keller is dumb, but at least he didn't lie to me."

Green responds in kind.

"It's absolutely false, and with all due respect to Mary Jane Smith's husband [federal judge Jerry Smith], that is an absolute lie." Green says he and his wife, Hilary, bumped into her at a GOP fund-raiser for a mutual friend.

"We came in, we said hello, she asked me who I was running against. And that's all I remember."

Green believes the quibbling over his political credentials amounts to petty political infighting on both sides of the partisan divide.

"I think a lot of people want to use me to get back at some other faction," says the candidate, who gestures to framed photos of civil rights-era marches on the walls of his Midtown law office.

"I've atoned for my sins, if they are sins," says Green. "If it's good enough for the Democratic Party to endorse me unanimously along with many other organizations and elected officials, I think that's good enough."

The voters will render their own judgment on that in the runoff next month.

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