Last March, Rose Renfro eked out a razor-close victory over attorney Scott Chase in the hotly contested Democratic primary for the District 4 County Commissioner's seat. And most folks in the local political know figure she pulled off that minor miracle by using the nickname "Rosita" on the ballot--even though she's about as Hispanic as her doppleganger, Betty White.
Now, with the general election less than three months away, Renfro's Republican opponent, incumbent Ken Mayfield, says he is looking into filing a lawsuit that would preclude her from using the name and suggesting she's Hispanic. In a rematch of their tight 2002 contest, Renfro and Mayfield are competing to represent a southwest Dallas County district in which Hispanic turnout will likely decide the election.
"That's a sham and a fraud on the public," Mayfield says of her alleged nickname. "She's blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian who's never gone by Rosita."
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Actually, Mayfield may want to look at broadening that lawsuit. Told of her opponent's protest, Renfro replies that she has more than one Hispanic-sounding nickname.
"I have a good friend now who calls me Rosita and Roserita sometimes," says Renfro, who denies using a fake nickname for political gain. Her late husband, who died in 1989, used to call her Rosita as a term of affection, she says. "Everybody has pet nicknames for their spouse," says Renfro. "I'll be honest with you. I never even thought of it as a Hispanic name. I just saw it as a term of endearment." Maybe it is, just not in Ken Mayfield's house. --Matt Pulle