University Democrats and Central Austin Democrats endorsed different candidates for House District 49 on Sunday, establishing a divide in widely coveted support from two of Austin’s top Democratic institutions.
With just two weeks of campaigning left before early voting on Feb. 16, former legislative aide and 2014 UT graduate Huey Rey Fischer won the endorsement from UDems, while Austin ISD school board member Gina Hinojosa won the CAD endorsement.
“The students are taking me to the Capitol,” Fischer said. “This is our opportunity to really have youth representation heard in the pink dome just a few blocks away from the UT campus, and it’s great momentum for our campaign.”
Fischer, a former UDems president, has been actively working alongside campus organizations to increase student voter participation.
UDems chose to endorse Fischer largely for his campus outreach and positions on key issues such as sexual assault and student loan debt, UDems communications director Maliha Mazhar said.
“Us endorsing him shows to the community that all the stuff Huey has been saying [about representing] students is, in fact, the truth,” government senior Mazhar said.
Throughout the primary campaign, Hinojosa received more than 200 endorsements from groups around Austin, including her most recent from the Austin American-Statesman and CAD.
“With the important endorsement of the Central Austin Democrats, I’ve won almost every Democratic Club and labor union endorsement all across the district,” Hinojosa said in a statement. “I’m honored to be the choice of so many diverse voters in District 49.”
In some cases, when both CAD and UDems endorse the same candidate for a particular race, the two groups combine to form the Austin Progressive Coalition.
“With that coveted endorsement, [CAD and UDems] combine a lot of their war chests together and … go to many, many residents in Central Austin,” said Taral Patel, Student Government chief of staff. “There’s a community trust in the Austin Progressive Coalition, which is also another reason why … by getting that endorsement, [candidates are] able to get a huge amount of support.”
For HD 49, neither candidate will receive the backing from the APC, but both candidates will get a boost in campaign operations from their separate endorsers.
Mazhar said UDems will be active on campus through blockwalking, tabling and advocating for Fischer until the March 1 election day.
The other candidates present at the UDems’ House preview meeting on Jan. 27 were attorney Aspen Dunaway, former NARAL Pro-Choice Texas counsel Blake Rocap and UT law professor Heather Way. Two of the candidates — attorney Kenton D. Johnson and Matt Shrum — were not present.