Local Candidates Find Victory in Statewide Races
On a wet, cloudy night, Greg Casar enjoys clear triumph
Both Greg Casar and Lloyd Doggett were first elected to office in their mid-20s. That was nearly 50 years ago for Doggett, when he first joined the Texas Senate, and only eight years ago for Casar on City Council. But on election night, as both Democrats celebrated easy victories in their contests for Congress (Casar got 72.6%, Doggett 76.8%) it was the younger man's ascension that occupied the older one's attention, noting that having gained Casar as a friend, "now I have a partner" to represent a much larger and more diverse city than the one that sent Doggett to Congress in 1994, about five versions of his district ago. But early in the evening, when it was not yet clear that the red wave was more of a bucket of warm spit, Doggett remembered his first session in D.C. under newly installed Speaker Newt Gingrich; he'd wait 12 years to finally be in the House majority. "It'll be a tough evening tonight," he said, before quoting Churchill: "When going through hell, keep on going."
This outcome doesn't really bother Casar as much as it might, since he sees the national platform for democratic socialist and union organizing that comes with being one of the House's 11 Justice Democrats as worth more than the pleasure of serving on whatever committee he gets stuck on. "You can lose an election, but you can't lose a movement," he told the crowd at Hotel Vegas on East Sixth. "What I'm talking about here is a lifetime commitment to be here for one another. This campaign is about all of us. This campaign is about the power of the people. This campaign is about the power of working families. We are the shining light in this election."
Doggett is a local legend and well known among Congress-watchers, but he doesn't have a huge national profile, which may not be the case for Casar. As the national party goes through a generational and demographic transition, a young and fiery lefty Spanish-speaker and labor organizer from red Texas may have a moment. For the rest of our U.S. House delegation, it's the same old folks – Michael McCaul, R-West Lake Hills; Chip Roy, R-Austin; and John Carter, R-Round Rock, each won another term in D.C. with more than 60% of the vote against underfunded Democrats.
Likewise, there will be just a few new faces in the 88th Texas Legislature from the five-county metro area, including Lulu Flores, who's been waiting patiently since winning the primary outright in March for the heavily Democratic and Latino House District 51 in southeast Travis County. Further afield, Caroline Harris will be the new GOP rep from Round Rock, as HD 52 incumbent James Talarico moved across the county line into the district yielded by Austin mayoral front-runner Celia Israel. Former Council Member Ellen Troxclair cruised in the new HD 19, which includes the reddest parts of Travis County and stretches into the Hill Country, and her friend Carrie Isaac, R-Dripping Springs – wife of former Rep. Jason Isaac, for whom Troxclair worked as a staffer – won the similar HD 73 in Hays and Comal counties. Democratic incumbents John Bucy, Sheryl Cole, Vikki Goodwin, Gina Hinojosa, Donna Howard, and Erin Zwiener, and GOP incumbent Terry Wilson all won reelection to the House; and Democrats Sarah Eckhardt and Judith Zaffirini, and Republicans Donna Campbell and Charles Schwertner will all be returning to the Texas Senate.