The special election to elect a new representative to the State Senate in District 14 will head to a runoff after no candidate received the more than 50% of the vote needed to win the race outright.
Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt led all vote-getters with 49.66% of the vote, or 59,267 total—fewer than 500 votes short of what she would have needed to claim outright victory.
As the final results from Travis County came in late July 14, her campaign released a statement.
"Whether we win with or without a runoff, I am looking forward to serving the people of Senate District 14," Eckhardt said.
Eckhardt will face state representative and fellow democrat Eddie Rodriguez in the runoff after Rodriguez placed second in the race with 40,384 total votes, or 33.84%.
In a statement released July 15, Rodriguez said his campaign is heading into the runoff "with momentum."
"I believe I have the best experience, vision, and judgement to get us through these crises and ensure to ensure an equitable recovery. I look forward to continuing to share that message on the campaign trail," he said.
Republican Don Zimmerman, a former Austin City Council member, placed third in the election with 13.04% of the vote. He was followed by Republican Waller T. Burns II, Independent Jeff Ridgeway and Libertarian Pat Dixon.
Update: 10:23 p.m.
Sarah Eckhardt continues to hold a lead in the Senate District 14 special election, and the former Travis County Judge is close to the 50% threshold needed to win the race outright without the need for a runoff election.
As of 10:30 p.m., Eckhardt has 49.6% of the vote in the district that spans all of Bastrop County and most of Travis County. If she does not meet the 50% mark, Eckhardt will head to a runoff election with the second-place candidate, likely to be fellow Democrat and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who has received 38,932 total votes.
Republican Don Zimmerman is in third place with 14,392 votes, followed by Republican Waller T. Burns II, Independent Jeff Ridgeway and Libertarian Pat Dixon.
Should a runoff election be necessary, the date would be up to the discretion of Gov. Greg Abbott.
With early voting returns in from both Travis and Bastrop counties, Democrat Sarah Eckhardt has taken an early lead in the race for the Texas Senate District 14 seat.
The former Travis County Judge has received 51.1% of the vote or 43,360 votes overall. Fellow Democrat Eddie Rodriguez is in second with 29,090 votes, or 34.3% overall.
Republican Don Zimmerman is third with 9,886 votes, 11.7% overall. The other three candidates—Republican Waller Thomas Burns II, Independent Jeff Ridgeway and Libertarian Pat Dixon, each received fewer than 1,000 total early votes.
The winner of the special election will fill the seat of former Sen. Kirk Watson, who resigned from the position April 30 to take over as founding dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs.
This is the first time the senate seat has come open since Watson, who served as Austin's mayor from 1997-2001, was initially elected to the position in 2006. The winner will serve out the remainder of Watson's term through 2022 and represent constituents at the 87th Legislative Session next year.
The senate district covers all of Bastrop County and most of Travis County, representing just over 970,000 residents, according to U.S. Census estimates. The area leans heavily Democratic. According to the state, in the 2018 election, more than 73% of District 14 residents voted for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke and 66.3% of residents voted for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez.
Election night results are always unofficial until they are canvassed by the Travis County Clerk. Voters who elected to receive a ballot by mail will have their vote tallied as long as their ballot is postmarked by July 14. This year, according to the clerk's office, more than 32,000 Travis County residents requested a ballot by mail.