José Garza leads Democratic primary for Travis County DA, heading to runoff

Neha Madhira

The Democratic primary race between incumbent Margaret Moore, 53rd District Attorney, and challenger José Garza will most likely go into a runoff.

Although Garza gained a lead as votes tallied in Tuesday, neither of them have received over 50% of the vote, which is necessary to be declared the winner. 

Moore had around 41% of the vote with 39% reporting, while Garza had around 44% with 39% reporting. Presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) endorsed Garza.

Garza hosted an election night watch party Tuesday night at Mexican restaurant Mi Madre’s. 

“I am incredibly honored and humbled that so many (supporters) came out tonight to celebrate the work that (supporters) have been doing for the last ten months,” Garza said at the watch party. “You have gotten behind a new vision for criminal justice here in Travis County and I am incredibly grateful to all of you.”

Moore has been endorsed by Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and city council member Leslie Pool, according to KVUE.

"There's no question that criminal justice reform is a priority of our party," Eckhardt said. "The only question in this primary is which candidate has the best chance of succeeding at it. … Margaret Moore has been an outstanding reform district attorney.”

Moore has fought for issues like holding police officers accountable and increasing sexual assault prosecutions, according to her re-election website. Garza’s main goals as a DA would be to change how the criminal justice system weighs most heavily on working-class people or people of color, restoring trust at the DA’s office and reimagining justice in Travis County, according to his campaign website. 

“Meeting him and seeing how relatable (Garza) was … (showed) hard-working and working-class people can also succeed and grow in this world,” said Kris Sherrill, a government and economics freshman who attended the watch party. “The way (substance abuse) is treated in this country is not right, and the way that he wants to change that in Travis county really just speaks to me.”

Government freshman Shivani Amara, who attended the watch party, said she has been volunteering for Garza since January.

“I have block-walked for him, phone-banked, texted and I just really support (Garza),” Amara said. “Obviously, I am going to be pretty sad if he loses because I have put a lot into this campaign, but I think that it’s not over and José is going to keep trying.”