Elections 2020The Back MicThe Back Mic: Senate District 14 Race Heats Up with New Ads, Endorsements

This week — a look at new developments in the race to replace Sen. Kirk Watson in Senate District 14.
June 19, 2020
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As the July 14 special election for Senate District 14 looms, the field, comprised of former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt (D), state representative Eddie Rodriguez (D), attorney Waller Thomas Burns II (R), former Austin City Council member and House District 47 candidate Don Zimmerman (R), former Lago Vista City Council member Pat Dixon (L), and physician Jeff Ridgeway (I), continues to compete for one of the state’s most prominent elected positions.  

Rodriguez Airs Anti-Eckhardt TV Ad

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) went on air this week with a television ad taking aim at former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt’s decision to leave her position as county executive in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

First reported by the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek, the ad centers on a clip of Eckhardt talking to a KXAN reporter, saying she’d “flipped a coin” in regards to her decision to run for state senate or remain as county judge. Attention is also drawn to an ethics violation and COVID-19 case numbers increasing in Travis County.

The two candidates have emerged as the Democratic front-runners in the race.

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Zimmerman Launches Video Ad

The Republican and former Austin City Councilman launched a new video ad this week in which he saddled up on a longhorn and decried the business closures that have been enacted in Travis County.

“Ryder the longhorn steer was trained by ranchers – not by politically correct government indoctrinators, so he has a rational opinion on ‘Shutdown Sarah’ Eckhardt’s unlawful ‘orders’ to shutdown our local economy and destroy small businesses that took decades to build,” said Zimmerman in a social media post.

Eckhardt Gets New Legislator Endorsement, Praises Bexar County’s Orders

Breaking from the trend set by her fellow Travis County colleagues, Rep. Sheryl Cole (D-Austin) endorsed Eckhardt this week. 

Last week, Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) announced a list of seven of his colleagues in the Texas House who had thrown their support behind his candidacy. Three Austin-based Democratic members, Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Donna Howard, and Celia Israel, have also endorsed Rodriguez. 

Meanwhile, Eckhardt has been vocal about her approval of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s decision to enact a facial covering mandate on local businesses. Despite initially appearing to not only be contradictory but an outright challenge to Governor Abbott’s orders, Abbott later said localities could have enforced such requirements on businesses, not individuals, all along. 

“As a result of Judge Nelson’s super-sleuthing, the City of Austin and Travis County are moving swiftly to ensure that businesses require customers and employees to wear face masks to control the spread of COVID-19,” said Eckhardt in an email to supporters.

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Interim Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.