Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Rodriguez and state Rep. Celia Israel.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, an Austin Democrat, announced Saturday that he is running for Texas Senate District 14.
"It is truly an honor to even be running [for] the Senate," Rodriguez said at B.D. Riley's Irish Pub in Austin, where he kicked off his Senate campaign with supporters. "I want to run for the Senate because I want to make Texas a more progressive place for everyone."
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, which covers Bastrop County and parts of Travis County, overlaps with Rodriguez’s House seat.
Gov. Greg Abbott hasn't yet called the special election for the seat. The winner will represent the district for the remainder of the term, which ends in 2023.
Rodriguez, flanked by supporters and a fellow member of the House's Austin delegation, underscored his experience and the relationships he has built while serving in the House — and briefly outlined what he wants to continue working on if elected to the Senate: increasing access to health care and making "sure the government stays the hell out of our bedroom."
State Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, introduced Rodriguez before he delivered his remarks, saying the delegation is "100% behind Eddie Rodriguez being the next senator."
"We need someone with Eddie's expertise, experience, charm and good looks," Israel joked as the crowd laughed. "I know that Eddie will be there for all of us."
After the event, Rodriguez is scheduled to make 10 stops across Central Texas in the Senate district.
"This is not one of the things where I'm walking into it," he said. "We're gonna go headfirst."
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, with the former filing a campaign treasurer report and the latter setting an agenda item on next week's commissioners court meeting to consider discussing a replacement should she decide to resign from office and run for the Senate seat.
Two Austin-area attorneys, Jose “Chito” Vela and Adam Loewy, have also said they are also seriously considering running for the seat. The Austin American-Statesman has reported that Pflugerville City Council member Rudy Metayer is also mulling a bid.