AUSTIN (KXAN) — A tight race among Democrats vying for the position of Travis County District Attorney will head to a runoff.
Incumbent Margaret Moore is in a fight for her job against challenger Jose Garza. Moore has been district attorney since 2016. Challenger Erin Martinson was eliminated.
Garza received 44% of the vote (80,621 votes) to Moore’s 41% (74,796) to set up the runoff.
A candidate must win more than 50% of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff.
Moore has years of experience in the courtroom and is touting that experience in her bid for re-election. Garza and Martinson are relative outsiders, but both claim Moore has failed when it comes to prosecuting sexual assault cases and goes too far in going after drug charges.
Moore told KXAN on Tuesday night, “We have done the work of reform, not just done the talking about reform.”
She said a runoff actually gives her more time to get her message out to voters: she’s ready to “do the work” again.
“As for sexual assaults, this gives me more time to inform the voters about the truth, and the truth is we have done more about adult sexual assaults than any D.A. before me,” Moore said.
Garza is the executive director of the Workers Defense Project. Martinson, a defense attorney and victim service advocate, was recruited to run by sexual assault victim advocates. In January, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed Garza for DA, giving his campaign a huge boost and name recognition.
Garza and Martinson both said, if elected, their first move would be to rejoin the Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team, a group Moore pulled out of several years ago.
Garza, in particular, maintains that our criminal justice system is “broken” and weighs too heavily on people of color and the working class.
He told KXAN Tuesday night he’s looking forward to more chances to talk to voters about his ideas for criminal justice reform ahead of a runoff.
“Regardless of the outcome, that work, that movement continues,” Garza said. “The people who have thrown in for this race are going to continue to work to end our cash bail system, they are going to continue to work to to build a criminal justice system where there is dignity and respect for survivors of sexual assault… the work continues.”
Martin Harry is running unopposed in the Republican primary. He will face the Democratic winner in the November general election.
“My opponents seem to be competing to see who can enforce the law the least,” Harry said. “I think we should be enforce the law not encourage the violation of the law.”
He told KXAN on Tuesday, he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Democratic primary race goto a runoff.
The Travis County District Attorney is in charge of prosecuting felonies in the county. The Travis County Attorney is in charge of misdemeanor prosecutions.