When Texas' legislature gerrymandered the state this year, they packed Austin Democrats into two super-blue districts, TX-35 and TX-37. Lloyd Doggett, a non-activist corporate "liberal" represented Texas 35, a nice very safe D+17. But he abandoned his constituents and scurried over to the new TX-37 (with a PVI around D+40, so even safer than very safe). Luckily for the residents of eastern Travis, Hays and Comal counties and parts of northern and central Bexar, Austin's most progressive and dedicated city councilman, community organizer Greg Casar, stepped in to run. He's best known as a battler for labor rights, reproductive rights, immigration reform and civil rights. While on the city council he championed the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour (from $7.25) and implemented what the Austin-American Statesman called the "most progressive labor policy for the entire state and possibly the American South." He wrote the Freedom City policies which reduced discretionary misdemeanor arrests in San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos, and ended all arrests and fines for personal marijuana possession. One of the reasons he so admired in Austin is because he pushed through policies to fund services for working people by closing tax loopholes for the very wealthy.
The new TX-35 is majority Hispanic and about 70% people of color. The establishment Democrat in the race, corporate shill Eddie Rodriguez, a middle-of-the-road state Rep. trying to portray himself as a progressive, just lost a state Senate race. Casar does not accept corporate PAC money: "I will not be accepting any contributions from major donors to the Republican-front group, Save Austin Now, because Texas working families deserve a leader who they can count on for Medicare for All, reproductive health care, good jobs, and progressive priorities. I also pledge to not accept money from corporate PACs, because we know that these special interest groups are trying to block progressive bills that would provide a better life for TX-35 residents."
I asked Greg to introduce his campaign-- which was officially launched this past Wednesday-- with a guest post. If you like what you read and you like what he has to say in his launch video below, please consider clicking on the 2022 Take Back Texas thermometer on the left. Greg isn't taking contributions from Texas fat-cats seeking to buy a new friend in Congress. He's depending on grassroots contributions. So, please, remember that $10 and $20 contributions add up to electing the kinds of real activists we need in solid blue districts.
Building Progressive Movement Power In Texas
-by Greg Casar
Seven years ago, at 25 years old, I was elected to the Austin City Council.
During that election, and since, I’ve learned that the greatest opponents progressives face aren’t other candidates-- it’s the loss of hope from people who didn’t believe their elected officials would actually deliver for them and their families.
And who could blame them? Texas officials have attacked our children, our reproductive health care, our neighbors, and they have failed to act on health care, the climate crisis, or weatherizing our electric grid.
We have the power to change that. Through building new coalitions, through passing progressive legislation, and by fighting like hell, our movement has already shown how we’re building power.
When I was first elected to the City Council, I learned of a community in my district that was being forced out of their homes by corporate landlords. Together we organized, marched, gathered volunteer lawyers, and worked with the City to fight back, and we won. Today, these working families own their land, and their destiny.
Early on in my tenure, I learned that there were City employees still making $7.25 an hour with no health care. Together we organized, fought back, and passed policies to double the minimum wage for thousands of workers, adding health care along with it. Today, these working families are able to better make ends meet and plan for their families.
Too often, the status quo persists through the lie that “nothing ever changes.” We have disproved that lie. We have shown that when working people lead, then politicians must follow.
During Winter Storm Uri, while Texas families huddled under blankets or burned their own furniture to try to keep their children warm, I trudged through the snow and ice to deliver blankets from my neighbors to our nearby warming center and shelter. That’s when I got the news alert – that Senator Ted Cruz was fleeing the state and that Gov. Greg Abbott was blaming the Green New Deal for the state’s power grid failure. Today, Texas still doesn’t have any sort of guarantee that our power grid has been weatherized, and our state officials refuse to take action.
Together, we can fight for a better Texas. We can win against the politicians that only cater to the powerful.
I believe Texas working families deserve a progressive leader who will always fight and deliver for reproductive rights, Medicare for All, good jobs, and a better Texas. Our movement has shown we’re ready, and now we’re ready to fight like hell to win.
That’s why I’m running for Congress. I hope you’ll join me.