Sen. Kirk Watson left the seat, which covers all of Bastrop County and most of Travis County, on April 30 to take a position as the dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. The special election to fill the rest of Watson’s term through 2022 in the Senate will be held July 14.
Zimmerman was elected to Austin City Council in 2014, the first year of Austin’s 10-1 council system, by defeating Jimmy Flannigan by fewer than 200 votes the District 6 runoff election. However, in 2016, Flannigan ousted Zimmerman from the seat, winning a full four-year term.
More recently, Zimmerman ran for the Republican nomination to represent District 47 in the Texas House in 2020. He came one vote short of earning a place in the runoff election, finishing third with 4,104 votes to Justin Berry’s 4,105. Berry will run against Jennifer Fleck, the top vote-getter in March, in July’s primary runoff.
The filing deadline for the Senate District 14 position is May 13. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, filed his paperwork for a run at the seat April 29. Rodriguez, who represents District 51 covering parts Austin and southeast Travis County in the Texas House, was first elected to that position in 2002.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has also announced intentions to run for the seat. She will step down from her position with the county May 13 to formally file paperwork. She has served in the county judge role since 2014, when she replaced Sam Biscoe. When Eckhardt steps down, Biscoe will come out of retirement to serve in the role on an interim basis.
Austin City Council Member Greg Casar initially declared an interest in the seat when Watson first announced his resignation. However, on May 4, Casar said he will no longer seek the position and instead will run for re-election to his District 4 seat on council in November.
Watson served in the District 14 seat for 14 years from 2006-20. At a press conference announcing his resignation in February, he said he would not influence the choice of his successor.
“I do not plan to get involved in that,” Watson said. “My guess is that there are a number of people who are very interested in it.”
The special election was initially scheduled for May, but due to safety concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott delayed it until July 14. It will be held on the same day as the primary runoff elections, which Abbott also delayed in the same March 20 order.