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Politics

Greg Casar soundly wins Democratic primary for congressional seat

Greg Casar at a podium in front of signs to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's insurance plan.
James Christenson
/
KUT
Former Austin City Council member Greg Casar, seen here in November, won the primary race for the Democratic nomination to represent District 35 in Congress.

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Greg Casar, who left the Austin City Council earlier this year, has declared victory in the Democratic primary to represent a swath of Central Texas in Congress.

Shortly after 11 p.m., The Associated Press called the race for Casar, who was leading with more than 61% of the vote. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Rebecca Viagran, a former City Council member from San Antonio, had each secured about 16%.

“Tonight we won. But it wasn’t about me,” Casar told a crowd gathered at a bar in East Austin, just after claiming victory around 8 p.m. “This election was about us, this election was about the power of the people, this election was about the power of our movement. Yes, I got lots of votes on this ballot, but actually $15 an hour won tonight, Medicare-for-all won tonight.”

Texas’ 35th Congressional District runs from East Austin, through San Marcos and New Braunfels, and into parts of San Antonio.

There was no clear winner in the race for the Republican nomination, meaning it will go to a runoff election. Dan McQueen, who served a brief stint as the mayor of Corpus Christi, and Michael Rodriguez will square off at the ballot box in May. But because the district has long been a Democratic stronghold, Casar likely secured the job with his primary win.

A former community organizer from Houston, Casar ran on a campaign of raising the minimum wage and expanding access to health care. He served on the Austin City Council for seven years, where he often pushed the city’s politics further to the left. Casar supported cutting millions in funding from the police department in 2020 and instituting mandatory paid sick leave for Austin residents — although that latter measure never took effect because of a court battle.

If Casar wins in November, he’ll replace U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett. Doggett announced last year he would run to represent Texas’ 37th Congressional District, a more Central Austin district created in the Legislature's latest redistricting maps. Doggett easily won the Democratic primary in that race.

Doggett told KUT on Tuesday that he looks forward to working with Casar if they both win.

“I think he will be a powerful voice in Congress," he said.

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