Nominees for Travis County Judge prepare to square off in November to replace Sarah Eckhardt

Sarah Eckhardt is pictured alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as she is ceremonially sworn in to her new position in the Texas Senate, representing District 14, on Aug. 12 at the Texas Capitol. (Courtesy Digital Advance)
Sarah Eckhardt is pictured alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as she is ceremonially sworn in to her new position in the Texas Senate, representing District 14, on Aug. 12 at the Texas Capitol. (Courtesy Digital Advance)

Sarah Eckhardt is pictured alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as she is ceremonially sworn in to her new position in the Texas Senate, representing District 14, on Aug. 12 at the Texas Capitol. (Courtesy Digital Advance)

The Travis County Republican and Democratic parties have announced their respective nominees for the next Travis County judge, who will succeed former judge and now-Texas State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt following the Nov. 3 election. The county Democratic party announced Aug. 16 it had chosen lawyer and political advisor Andy Brown as its nominee, and the Republicans announced their pick, attorney Michael Lovins, the following day.

A special election to replace Eckhardt was triggered when she announced her plans to run for former Texas Sen. Kirk Watson’s vacated seat in March. Since Eckhardt officially stepped down May 12, former Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe has served as her interim replacement.

Normally, when a county government seat is vacated, the choice goes to the voters in a primary election, but because Eckhardt stepped down after the primary election date, the selections for the nominees were made by the respective county parties.

Brown served as campaign manager for Rep. Lloyd Doggett in 2004 and as Finance Director and Senior Advisor to Beto O’Rourke’s campaigns for U.S. Senate and for the U.S. presidency. He previously ran for Travis County judge in 2014—against Eckhardt— following a five-year stint as chair of the Travis County Democratic Party. In 2011, he founded the law firm Andy Brown & Associates.

“Our next County Judge will have huge shoes to fill after the departure of now-Senator Eckhardt,” TCDP Chair Katie Naranjo said in a press release. “Andy’s broad experience as an accomplished attorney and his tireless dedication to Democratic values leaves me confident [he] will serve our county well.”


Brown was chosen over two other candidates, Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion and former TCDP Chair Dyana Limon-Mercado, to receive the nomination in a vote by 136 precinct chairs. He lists criminal justice reform, voting rights, environmental protection and behavioral health as key campaign issues on his campaign’s website.

“We need a leader who is willing to do the hard work required to move us in a progressive direction. As County Judge, I will bring progressive reform to our community,” Brown said on his website.

Republican candidate Lovins was appointed by Travis County Republican Party Chair Matt Mackowiak with the approval of the party's executive committee.

“We are thrilled that he is willing to step up and run in this critical election,” Mackowiak said. “Michael is a widely respected local attorney, a member of the Federalist Society, and a community leader in Oak Hill, where his family lives. He is running to put taxpayers first. He is exactly what taxpayers need in the office of County Judge.”

Lovins named public safety and preserving the county’s law enforcement budget as a campaign focus in the party's announcement.

“I am running to ensure that Travis County remains a safe community with a vibrant economy that is affordable for families to live. As Travis County Judge, my focus will be on local solutions for the challenges our community faces, not national liberal agendas driven by progressive special interests,” Lovins said.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.