The Congressman, the Engineer and the Newcomer: Democratic Battle for the New Austin Dist. 37
AUSTIN (KXAN) — With early voting set to begin Monday in the March primary election, candidates in a local race are pushing to ensure voters are fully aware Austin has a new congressional district, thanks in the census count.
District 37 was carefully crafted by Republican state lawmakers during the Third Special Session last fall.
Made up of nearly all of Austin west of I-35, the deep blue district engulfs the majority of local Democratic voters, bolstering the chances of GOP candidates in surrounding areas like Williamson County .
GOP lawmakers have denied the accusations of gerrymandering. Longtime Austin-area U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the favorite to clinch the District 37 Democratic nomination, disagrees.
“The redistricting plan is as bad as it ever was,” he told KXAN on Saturday. “[The new district] pack the democrats instead of tearing us apart like [Republicans] have over the past 20 years.
Doggett: ‘There’s still a lot to do’
In his nearly three decades in Congress, Doggett has become somewhat accustomed to changing districts as borders shift. He currently represents District 35 which stretches from Austin to San Antonio.
At 75, the congressman believes there’s still a lot to do in DC
“There’s so much left to accomplish,” Doggett said. “My efforts under the ‘Build Back Better’ legislation were designed to provide medical coverage for the approximately two million Texans who were left behind and left behind during the Medicaid expansion.”
Doggett is armed with a multi-million dollar campaign war chest heading into the 2022 primary.
KXAN spoke to two of his Democratic opponents to convince voters it’s time for a change.
“American Congress Engineer”
Donna Imam ran for Congress two years ago. His 2022 billboards, touting his background as a computer engineer, are currently strewn around Austin.
Imam has worked for technology companies such as Dell, Motorola and Freescale Semiconductor.
“We are the tech capital of Texas,” Imam told KXAN. “There are very few people with the depth of technology and breadth of business, successfully bringing multi-billion dollar product lines to market over and over again.”
“Running [U.S. House members]they tell me they need that kind of expertise in Congress,” she said.
Imam’s platform also includes Medicare for All and Debt-Free Education.
A candidate for the ‘New Austin’
Chris Jones, director of a transportation technology company, is a political newcomer.
Jones moved to Austin from Alabama 10 years ago. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he told KXAN that he hopes to represent a local electorate that is “younger, more diverse and more progressive than ever.”
“I also want to help restore faith in democracy by putting in place a system that allows more people to join the political process,” he said, “I’ve learned a lot over the past two months , mainly that it’s incredibly difficult for normal people to run for office.
Jones’ platform also includes Medicare-for-all, as well as climate change and wage reform.
KXAN could not reach the fourth candidate for the Democratic primary, Quinton Beaubouef. Early voting runs from February 14-25. Election day is Tuesday, March 1.