Austin Council Member Greg Casar files initial paperwork for run at Kirk Watson’s vacated Texas Senate seat

District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

District 4 City Council Member Greg Casar (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Greg Casar, District 4 Austin City Council member, has appointed a treasurer for his potential run at the seat of state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, that was recently vacated; however, if Casar wishes to become a candidate for the Senate seat, he will have to first resign from City Council, according to a legal memo obtained by Community Impact Newspaper.

Casar filed paperwork March 2 naming Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, as the treasurer of his Texas Senate campaign. Casar can now begin seeking campaign donations and said he will make an announcement about his decision whether to run “in the coming days.”

Although his naming a treasurer and seeking donations makes him a candidate in some respects, he cannot officially become a candidate until he resigns from City Council, according to a legal memo to Casar written by attorney James E. Cousar of the Austin-based firm Thompson & Knight LLP.

Article 3, Sect. 19 of the Texas Constitution mandates that anyone holding any “lucrative office,” whether under the United States or any foreign government, is ineligible for the Texas Legislature. Cousar, in his memo to Casar, said resignation does not become effective until it is accepted by City Council or eight days after the resignation has been submitted to the City Council. Casar will remain ineligible until he has resigned.

In his memo, Cousar notes that a council member who has resigned does not leave his seat immediately. After submitting his resignation, Casar would remain in his council seat until a replacement has been elected to the remainder of his term or until Casar is elected to another office. Casar is in his last year of his first four-year term on City Council.

Watson, who announced Feb. 18 that his last day as a state senator would be April 30, is retiring from state politics to become the founding dean of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs. Watson has held the seat since 2006. Watson’s current term is set to expire in 2023, so a special election will be needed to fill the seat and complete the term.

Casar said Watson’s replacement will need to be ready on the first day of the job to fight for “Texans trying to make ends meet.”

“Texans want our state leaders to expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana, and support working people instead of corporate special interests,” Casar said in a March 2 press release. “For that, we’re going to need a fighter who isn’t afraid to speak truth to power and get things done. I am strongly considering a run for this seat and will make an announcement about my decision in the coming days.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has not decided whether the special election to fill Watson's seat will be held in May or November.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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