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Abbott calls July 14 election for Senate seat

Thursday, March 19, 2020 by Jo Clifton

Late Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation for a special election on July 14 to fill the seat being vacated by longtime Austin Sen. Kirk Watson, who is resigning to become the first dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. Although the election for Texas Senate District 14 would normally have been called for May 2, after issuing an emergency declaration to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, the governor was able to suspend some provisions of the state election code to allow the election to be held later. According to Abbott’s press release, the governor is consulting with the secretary of state about “additional strategies to ensure public health in relation to any upcoming election” and is authorized to “suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business” if complying with the rules would “prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in regards to a disaster declaration.” So far, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt have said they are running for the seat Watson is vacating. Council Member Greg Casar has also expressed interest, but when contacted Monday before Abbott called the July election, Casar said he was devoting all of his time and energy to helping Austinites impacted by the pandemic. Candidates for the Senate position may file for the office starting April 29, with a deadline of May 13. If Casar decides to run, he will need to tell his colleagues he is resigning so they can set a date for a special election sometime before the November uniform election date, according to City Clerk Jannette Goodall.

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