Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has won her bid to replace former Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson.
The surprise development comes after Eckhardt’s opponent, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, announced he would be dropping out of the race to focus on securing a Democratic majority in the lower chamber.
The announcement makes Eckhardt the de-facto winner of the special election runoff.
Rodriguez and Eckhardt emerged as the top two candidates in a six-way special election race on July 15. Eckhardt recieved 50 percent of the vote and Rodriguez recieved 34 percent. Eckhardt resigned from her position as Travis County Judge earlier this year to run in the special election.
Democrats are only nine seats away from a majority in the Texas House. If they manage to flip the statehouse in 2020, it would be the first time in two decades that Democrats control the lower chamber.
In his remarks announcing the end of his candidacy for the safely blue Democratic state Senate seat, Rodriguez said, “we have the first chance in a generation to forge a Democratic majority in a critical and historical session that will determine the future of Texas.”
The Texas Legislature will return to session in 2021, a particularly high-stakes session as lawmakers redraw both congressional and state legislative districts.