Tuesday, May 5, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Casar to seek reelection

Council Member Greg Casar announced Monday that he will not be seeking Sen. Kirk Watson’s now-vacant District 14 seat. In early March, Casar explored the possibility of running for state Senate. However, that move was quickly overshadowed by the cancellation of South by Southwest and the unprecedented fight against Covid-19 that has since consumed Austin and the world.

Casar told the Austin Monitor that the pandemic had influenced his decision “significantly.” In a statement released to the press Monday morning, he emphasized that work at the city level is what he feels called to do and where he “can do the most good.”

“We live in a time of great uncertainty. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, we face the looming threat of an economic recession, and there are federal elections that will determine the fate of our nation for generations to come,” said Casar. “Locally, we are protecting families and saving lives from Covid-19. We are holding corporate landlords accountable so that people don’t lose their homes and we are focused on public health, not on public perception, during this pandemic.”

“In addition to protecting Austin from the pandemic, our city has major unfinished business. The housing crisis must be addressed. Progressives must be at the forefront of the economic recovery from Covid-19, and we must put in place a once-in-a-lifetime transit plan that addresses transportation, climate change and green jobs in a massive way. All of these things deserve my full attention for the time being, because we have to get this right.”

Casar was elected to City Council in 2014 as part of the freshman class of single-member district Council members, and again in 2016. If reelected, this will be the last time he can serve as the representative of District 4. At the moment, no opponents for the District 4 seat have filed campaign finance reports for the November 2020 election.

In what is likely a coincidence, about an hour after Casar’s announcement, former Council Member Don Zimmerman declared he was exploring a state Senate run to “make Texas open again.” Zimmerman, who was also elected to Council in 2014, did not win reelection for a second term, though he did garner a lot of press coverage while in office for his ongoing opposition to City Hall and his myriad conflicts with the prevailing culture.

Those threads continued in his statement to the press which read, in part:

“Zimmerman is convinced that public service in the protection of local liberty is being undermined by partisan power abuse in the quest for ‘local control’ (e.g. abusing city and county government power to combat the Trump administration) … It may be an uphill climb for the district that re-elected Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson several times since 2008, but Zimmerman reminds any naysayers that Texas liberty was won in 1836 by fighting battles that had little to no chance of success.”

“If I lose the SD-14 race, I survive to suffer more local control in the advance of democratic-socialism, more government greed through illegal rezoning, more subsidies for people experiencing no property tax bills, and I live to fight another day,” Zimmerman said. “The defenders of the Alamo only got a bayonet in the gut. Considering this, it’s inexcusable to not fight for local liberty in these unusual times.”

In March, Zimmerman was shut out of the House District 47 runoff by a single vote. He opted not to seek a recount of the primary votes citing the “exorbitant” fee to do so, which he estimated would run over $20,000.

If he opts to run for SD 14, Zimmerman will join Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who announced in April that he had filed paperwork to be placed on the ballot. Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt is also considering bids to replace Watson in an election now scheduled for July 14. Though and Rep. Gina Hinojosa was previously considering running for the seat, she has now endorsed Rodriguez.

This story has been corrected to reflect the Hinojosa’s current position.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Don Zimmerman: Former Austin City Council Member for District 6 (2014-2016)

Greg Casar: Austin City Council member for District 4

Senator Kirk Watson

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