Don Zimmerman Announces Campaign for HD 47

Candidates begin to surface for 2020 primaries

If you were breathlessly awaiting the return of Don Zimmerman to Central Texas political campaigns, you can exhale. On Thursday, Zimmerman announced that he will be running in the Republican primary for state House District 47, currently held by Democrat Vikki Goodwin.

Don Zimmerman (Photo by Jana Birchum)

In a press release headlined, “Zimmerman throws hat in the ring to retake House District 47 for Texas taxpayers,” former District 6 City Council member Zimmerman says he is running to “pick up where his Republican predecessor Paul Workman left off before being unseated by a Democrat [Goodwin] in 2018.” Zimmerman says he is running as a “taxpayer’s advocate” and also to address traffic congestion in the southwest Travis County district. He says transportation will be a “central focus” of his campaign, accusing his former City Hall colleagues of “weaponizing increasing traffic congestion in their war against private vehicles … as a ramrod for centrally planned New Urbanism. …”

Zimmerman said that in response, he will “use his systems engineering background to encourage a friendly Republican Legislature to build a new freeway loop connecting to western Travis County.” The self-designated “Texas Taxpayers’ Voice of Reason” did not specify how he intends to pay for the new highway.

Zimmerman served one term on Council (2015-16), and was defeated for a second term by current District 7 incumbent Jimmy Flannigan. Earlier, he had reportedly also been considering a run for Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 3 – currently held by Republican incumbent Gerald Daugherty. Daugherty has said he is unlikely to run for re-election, but will not make a firm decision until mid-summer.

Also announcing for the GOP HD 47 nomination is attorney Jenny Roan Forgey, whose campaign page declares she will support small-business economy, the healthcare industry, and education. “I want our civil discourse to be just that – civil,” says Forgey, a goal that may be a challenge in a race featuring Zimmerman.

Delia Garza (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Another incumbent City Council Member – Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza – is also in the 2020 campaign news. Garza has been rumored recently to be considering running for a Travis County judgeship, but told the Chronicle Thursday she is “seriously considering” running to succeed retiring Travis County Attorney David Escamilla. Garza is an attorney, former assistant attorney general, and former Austin firefighter, and has served on the Council since 2015. In January, she was elected Mayor Pro Tem by her colleagues on the dais.

Earlier this week, Pflugerville attorney Dominic Selvera announced his candidacy for County Attorney, with a kickoff event scheduled Saturday, June 1, at Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches, 3220 Manor Road (2-4pm). In a statement, Selvera said, “Our campaign is about building a smarter, more economical and effective justice system for misdemeanor-level crimes in Travis County. It’s time we bring criminal justice reform to Travis County.”

Also mentioned as potential County Attorney candidates are County Court-at-Law Judges Mike Denton and Elisabeth Earle. On Thursday, Denton said he is “seriously considering” a run, while Earle told the Chronicle she has “not made a final decision” on the race, but is “talking with my family and reflecting how I can best be of service to our community.”

Denton, Earle, and Garza are all in the difficult position, under state law, of having to resign their current elected offices should they formally declare their candidacy for another position. The Democratic primary – often decisive in Travis County elections – is in March, and prospective candidates often wait until later in the year to formally announce campaigns.

In other area campaign news, it appears incumbent District Attorney Margaret Moore will have at least a couple of challengers. Both José Garza and Erin Martinson told the Chronicle they are getting closer to making formal announcements, likely in the next few days. Garza is an attorney and executive director of the Workers Defense Project; Martinson is an attorney with the Texas Legal Services Center, and an adjunct professor at the UT Law School.

Elsewhere, Austin attorney Shannon Hutcheson has announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination in the Congressional District 10 race. She joins already campaigning Mike Siegel (formerly a City of Austin assistant attorney) and Dr. Pritesh Gandhi (People’s Community Clinic and UT-Dell Medical School). That Austin-to-Houston seat is currently held by eight-term Republican incumbent Michael McCaul, who defeated Siegel narrowly last November.

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Primary Election 2020, Don Zimmerman, Delia Garza, Vikki Goodwin, David Escamilla, Margaret Moore

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