Elections 2020Sarah Eckhardt Wins State Senate Seat After Rep. Eddie Rodriguez Drops Out of Runoff

With Rodriguez's exit, Sarah Eckhardt has secured the Senate District 14 seat, replacing former Sen. Kirk Watson. Eckhardt will finish the term and must run for re-election in 2022.
July 27, 2020
Two weeks ago, former Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt missed taking the Senate District 14 special election outright by inches. But today, her opponent, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) announced he would drop out of the runoff.

Citing the opportunity to build upon the 2018 Democratic gains in Texas, Rodriguez said he had chosen to switch his focus from securing the Senate seat.

“I have decided to forego the runoff for Senate and focus my efforts on winning a Democratic majority and promoting an aggressive, progressive agenda in the Texas House,” he said in a Facebook post.

Former Sen. Kirk Watson resigned from his long-held, majority-Travis County seat to become the dean of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

This triggered a special election to replace him, which numerous candidates jumped into.

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When the dust settled on July 14, Eckhardt finished with 49.7 percent, only 0.3 percent short of securing the seat outright. Rodriguez finished a distant second with 34 percent. The third-place finisher — former Austin City Councilman and Republican candidate for House District 47 — Don Zimmerman played somewhat of a spoiler for Eckhardt, winning Bastrop County.

Zimmerman finished with 13 percent.

Rodriguez had raised $750,000 compared to Eckhardt’s $245,000 during the election but lost by nearly 20,000 votes.

Eckhardt served as the Travis County Judge since 2015 until she resigned, after a delay, to run for State Senate.

Rodriguez concluded, “I congratulate Sarah Eckhardt on her performance in the election, and I wish her well. As Dean of the Travis County delegation, I look forward to working with her to carve a progressive path forward for our shared community.”

He will face a Republican challenger in November for his Texas House seat, but has not faced a competitive general election opponent his entire tenure. Rodriguez first won election to the House in 2002.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.