County Judge candidate Andy Brown logged endorsements from a pair of elected officials at a campaign event Thursday in East Austin.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and state Sen. Kirk Watson, both Austin Democrats, told a crowd of about 150 people they are backing Brown, the former county Democratic Party chair running against former county commissioner Sarah Eckhardt in the March primary. The county judge chairs the policy-making and budget-setting commissioners court and sets the agenda for the government with nearly $500 million in property tax revenue. The seat, now held by the retiring Sam Biscoe, will be open in the 2014 election for the first time since Biscoe first won it in 1998.
“Andy is somebody that is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and have all of us succeed,” Watson said. “He’s not somebody that is only going to do the job that’s the fun job or the job that gets the attention.”
The politicians announced their support at a school-supply drive hosted by Brown’s campaign at the Carver Museum, standing in the building’s late-afternoon sunlight-filled atrium. Standing near Brown as the candidate addressed the crowd, Doggett and Watson offered a quick bit of campaign advice, suggesting he also introduce his wife, Sara.
Brown, an attorney and the county’s Democratic Party chairman from 2009 until he stepped down in May, is a relative outsider to county government. Eckhardt was the Precinct 2 commissioner from 2006 until May and previously worked as an assistant county attorney. Almost every countywide race is decided in the March primaries in Democratic-leaning Travis County, but a Republican, Mike McNamara, is also running.
Brown previously worked for Doggett, managing his campaign in 2004. He has also connected his work as the party’s chair with Watson, previously citing tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to the party from Watson and his campaign coffers.
Eckhardt’s campaign manager, Nick Hudson, said: “Sarah looks forward to working with Congressman Doggett and Senator Watson when voters choose her to be the next county judge.”
The race in on pace to be the most expensive in county politics, with the candidates raising a combined $335,000 in the first half of 2013, the most recent time period for which financial data was available. Brown had raised about $21,000 more than Eckhardt; he saved $135,000, slightly more than Eckhardt’s $132,000, according to the filings reported in July.