Incumbent Margaret Moore concedes to José Garza in Travis County DA runoff after early results

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County District Attorney Incumbent Margaret Moore conceded the Democratic primary runoff to her opponent, José Garza.

Moore sent a statement just before 8 p.m. congratulating Garza after receiving initial election results. Early voting totals put Garza at 68% and Moore at 32% of the vote.

That’s just about how the spread stayed between the two, with Garza earning 81,584 votes for 68.3%. Moore finished with 37,874 votes for 31.7% after all precincts reported.

“I want to thank the voters of Travis County for giving me the opportunity to serve our community over the last three years,” Moore wrote in a statement. “The District Attorney’s Office has made significant improvements to ensure police officers are being held accountable, to prioritize the prosecution of sexual assault cases, and establish new diversion programs for first-time offenders. I’m very proud of the progress we have made thus far. Congratulations to my opponent for his victory tonight. I wish him well in the future.”

Garza held a virtual watch party via Zoom where he thanked his supporters.

“This night is about you, and so most of all we are here to say thank you to you,” he said.

He also thanked Moore for her work as District Attorney, and in other elected offices in the county.

“Travis County is a more progressive community because of the decades of service that she has given,” he said of Moore.

Moore had a close primary race with Garza. Garza received 44% of the vote (80,621 votes) while Moore received 41% (74,796) in the March primary.

Garza is the executive director of the Workers Defense Project and told KXAN he believes the “criminal justice system is broken” and needs to be “re-imagined.”

“We are at a moment where tens of thousands of people have been pouring into the streets to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ To demand change,” he said.

Garza has vowed to dismantle the cash bail system he said weighs too heavily on people of color in the criminal justice system.

“We will be preparing to make good on the commitments we have made throughout the course of this campaign: to end the prosecution of low-level drug offenses, to end our cash bail system, to build a criminal justice system that treats survivors of sexual assault with dignity and respect,” Garza told KXAN earlier in the day.

Garza said there’s a lot of work to be done before he faces off with Republican Martin Harry in November.

“The election for Travis County District Attorney presents a stark choice for voters,” Harry said in a statement. “The choice is between his ‘reform that will make Austin safer’ and
Garza’s ‘anti-law enforcement agenda that will make the community less safe.'”

Harry said in a statement that he wanted to challenge Garza to three debates ahead of election day.

Harry did not specify the issues he found with Garza’s positions or what reforms he was proposing in his statement. According to his website, he wants to enforce laws “fairly and uniformly,” emphasize rehabilitation and respect the right to reasonable bail.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Garza, congratulated him on Twitter.

“We need progressive leaders everywhere who will reform our broken and racist criminal justice system, and I look forward to seeing José bring change in Texas,” he tweeted.

The Travis County District Attorney is in charge of prosecuting felonies in the county, while the Travis County Attorney —which also has its own runoff — is in charge of misdemeanor prosecutions.

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