Greg Casar wants to be San Antonio’s next great politician

Earlier this week, Greg Casar, joined by his partner and a few close friends, walked into the North Austin office of the Texas Democratic headquarters and filed the documents to officially start his first run for Congress. A dozen supporters and Casar’s young campaign staff, mostly women, waited outside, all of whom cheered as Austin’s three-time board member exited the building moments later.

Wear a Greg Casar to Congress! banner and placards, his supporters gathered on a small staircase as Casar, clad in a fitted white shirt and tailored pants, stood in front to make a few remarks. All of this was captured by a melee of TV cameras and journalists, an indicator not of the interest in filling out documents, but of Casar’s rising power.

Now Casar is using that star power to take on his next challenge: winning Texas District 35, an oddly shaped congressional seat that encompasses four counties (Bexar, Comal, Travis and Hays); two major American cities; and a multitude of rural towns that are shifting from predominantly white to predominantly Hispanic and back again. Lloyd Doggett, who has served in Congress since 1995, currently represents District 35, but is now running for re-election in District 37, which is concentrated only in Austin.

After six years as one of the most vocal and successful members of the Austin platform, Casar and the company are betting his message – fair wages, protecting working families, insurance – disease for all, reproductive rights – will resonate with residents of the Northeast Side in New Braunfels. at Lockhart.

“I’ve already started knocking on doors myself,” Casar says of the first few weeks of his campaign. “And we have meetings and conversations with people in each of the four counties. What matters to me is bringing working families to the decision-making table and giving workers a voice in their government.

Greg Casar joins his partner Asha Dane’el after submitting his first candidacy for Congress.

Katie Friel / MySA

Workers’ rights have been the cornerstone of the 32-year-old’s short career, who began as a union organizer in Austin. In 2014, Houston-born Gregorio Casar, a University of Virginia graduate, made headlines when he became the youngest member of Austin’s city council. Although he won his second round against Laura Pressley by 65% ​​to 35%, his opponent demanded a recount. When the count revealed the same result, Pressley went on to claim “vote spreads,” a sort of precursor to Donald Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election.

The battle also served as a precursor to Casar’s time on the board, where he found himself trading punches with everyone from Sen. Ted Cruz to the Travis County GOP. But of all of Texas Republican leaders, Casar is perhaps the most critical of Gov. Greg Abbott, especially in the wake of winter storm Uri and his perceived inaction by the Texas Legislature to prevent a similar disaster.

“We shouldn’t have to ask our governor to say defensively the lights are going to stay on,” Casar said of Abbott’s Nov. 29 press release promising the Texas power grid would not collapse. failure this winter.

“I decided I wanted to run to Congress just as I was walking with my neighbors in the snow to deliver blankets to high school. And I got the alert that Abbott at that point was on Fox News, blaming the windmills for the winter storm, blaming anyone but himself.

Greg Casar is joined by supporters, campaign staff and cameras.

Greg Casar is joined by supporters, campaign staff and cameras.

Katie Friel / MySA

Casar goes on to highlight the $ 1 million donation made to Abbott by energy mogul Kelcy Warren, whose energy transfer partners raked in $ 2.4 billion during the Texas blackouts, according to the Texas Observer report.

“It’s sick, it’s wrong,” Casar says of the donation. “And if we’re not going to get the kind of action we need from the governor, then we need a progressive in Congress representing areas like San Antonio that have been so hard to reach, who have reputation for making real change so that I can help make that kind of change in texas since the governor won’t.

Sadie Layher MySA AP

Over the next year or so, Casar will likely refine that post as he walks down the I-35 corridor that runs through the heart of his potential neighborhood. On his agenda is a continued presence in the town of Alamo, where District 35 stretches across the Eastside and into the city center before stopping just north of the 410. He’s already friendly. with Mayor Ron Nirenberg and council members Teri Castillo, Ana Sandoval and Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) and made frequent appearances with candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke, with whom he shares the love of racing. (“I still try to run every day,” Casar says.)

But back in this group of cameras and photographers, we realize that Casar may not need any approvals or PAC money (he has already said he wouldn’t take it from anyway). Six years after winning his first election, Casar may be cultivating that infuriating and impossible to fathom factor that so often separates winners from losers: Things are going a bit his way.

He is newly engaged and sports a new haircut. He just won an epic political victory with the loss of Prop A in Austin in November, which would have increased police funding. Even the day he applied for Congress, December 1, was sunny, beautiful and perfect, a date chosen for no other reason than it sounded good.

And the momentum seems to be felt by those around them. When asked if the blue and red dress she wore on filing was a nod to the unity between political parties, Casar’s partner of nearly a decade and new fiancee, Asha Dane ‘el, laughs and shakes his head. She didn’t even realize it, she said. “I guess I have to start thinking about these things.”

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