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State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez becomes first to enter race for Senate District 14

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State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez takes part in a Mexican American Legislative Caucus and House Elections Committee press conference on Jan. 30, 2019. Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, an Austin Democrat, announced Saturday that he is running for Texas Senate District 14.

“I am proud to announce that I am running to serve our community as the next state senator for Texans in Travis and Bastrop counties,” Rodriguez said in a written statement. “I know firsthand the challenges Texans face, and the ways that we can work together to improve people’s lives. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I have sought throughout my career to be a progressive problem solver so that all Texans have an opportunity to succeed.”

Rodriguez, who has served in the House since 2003, is the first candidate to formally enter the special election for the historically Democratic seat, which will be vacated by retiring state Sen. Kirk Watson, a fellow Austin Democrat, at the end of April. The seat covers Bastrop County and parts of Travis County and overlaps with Rodriguez’s House seat.

The special election for the seat hasn’t yet been called by Gov. Greg Abbott. The winner will represent the district for the remainder of the term, which ends in 2023.

Rodriguez is scheduled to kick off his campaign Saturday morning at an Austin pub, where his campaign said he will be joined by fellow Austin-area House members who are supporting his Senate bid. From there, his campaign said, Rodriguez will make a series of stops across Central Texas in the Senate district.

The race to replace Watson could be a crowded one. Two other elected officials — Austin City Council member Greg Casar and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt — have been inching toward formal bids. And two Austin-area attorneys, Jose “Chito” Vela and Adam Loewy, have said they are also seriously considering a run for the seat.