State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez announced Monday that he would back out of the special election runoff for Kirk Watson's former state Senate seat, giving the win to former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt.
Eckhardt nearly won the seat outright in the July 14 election.
Final results from that contest showed Eckhardt with 49.74% of the vote—she needed 50% to avoid a runoff. Rodriguez had 33.86% of the vote, likely giving him long odds of winning the seat.
Rodriguez has served in the State House since 2002 and is currently nearing the end of his eighth term. He won the primary for the 2020 election with nearly 80% of the vote before filing to run for Watson's seat.
Eckhardt has been highly visible in recent months, serving as one of the leading voices of Travis County's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite announcing she would step down as Travis County judge in order to run for Watson's seat, she extended her time with the county to manage issues related to the pandemic. She officially left office May 12.
Rodriguez said in a statement that instead of fighting Eckhardt in a protracted runoff, the date for which had not yet been set, he wanted to focus on winning a Democratic majority in the Texas House this November.
Today I released the following statement on my plans for 2020. I have decided to forego the runoff for Senate and f… https://t.co/Nvjs0FUfEO— Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (@Rep. Eddie Rodriguez)1595862349.0
"This year, we have the first chance in a generation to forge a Democratic majority in a critical and historic session that will determine the future of Texas," he said. "I will be working hard for District 51 and the entire state, pushing a policy agenda that includes strong public schools, increased access to health care, gun violence prevention, meaningful criminal justice reform and policies that respect the dignity of every Texan."
Eckhardt responded on Twitter.Democrats are nine seats away from winning a majority in the Texas House for the first time since 2001.
Eckhardt will be the second Travis County leader in a row to hold the Texas Senate District 14 seat. Watson served as the mayor of Austin from 1997 until 2001 before joining the Senate in 2006.
District 14 covers most of Austin and all of Bastrop County.
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