Progressive Greg Casar Trounces Competition in Central Texas Congressional Primary

Longtime State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, meanwhile, flops.

by

With about 60 percent of the vote, ex-Austin City Council Member Greg Casar—a staunch progressive and former labor organizer endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—trounced his competition Tuesday evening in the Democratic primary for Texas’ Congressional District 35.

“Our campaign has built a movement of working people, from San Antonio to Austin, who are ready to fight because our futures depend on it,” said Casar in a press release declaring victory. “Progressive policies are popular. And we’re going to pass them for Texas working families.”

In his seven years on Austin City Council, Casar led efforts to effectively end arrests for low-level pot possession, pass an ordinance requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave, roll back ordinances criminalizing homelessness, and move to transfer money out of the police department and into civilian social services. 

Some of Casar’s progressive achievements were swiftly undone by the state’s conservative legislature and courts (and, in the case of homeless decriminalization, by Austin voters themselves). 

Last month, Casar acknowledged the state had frustrated a number of his initiatives. “Do we respond by just giving up? Or do we continue to build our movement to go to Congress to pass paid sick time for every single Texan, paid parental leave for every single American, and a $15 an hour minimum wage?” he told the Observer, adding that he’d use his federal perch to “override the Legislature.”

Casar’s opponents included 10-term state House Representative Eddie Rodriguez. During the primary, Rodriguez attacked Casar with misleading mailers about homelessness while also attempting to amuse potential voters with an ad modeled on a defunct series of Dos Equis commercials. Despite representing a chunk of Travis County for 20 years, Rodriguez pulled in less than a fifth of the county’s early vote. Both he and former San Antonio City Council Member Rebecca Viagran garnered about 16 percent overall.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect results as of Wednesday.

Editor’s NoteLaura Hernandez Holmes, the board chair for the Texas Democracy Foundation, is employed by Greg Casar’s campaign. TDF is the nonprofit organization that publishes the Texas Observer. The TDF board plays no role in the Observer‘s journalism.