Note: This report has been updated since we sent our Breaking News alert.

Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) announced he is resigning effective April 30 to become the founding dean of the Univ. of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Sen. Kirk Watson

Sen. Kirk

“Thank you for all the kind words today,” Watson tweeted late this afternoon. “When Liz and I came to Austin almost 40 years ago, this community just wrapped itself around us and has lifted us up. Today is no different.”

The former Austin mayor was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and has been re-elected four times. His resignation will trigger a special election to fill his unexpired term. Watson is not up for re-election this year.

The November 3 general election and May 2 uniform election are the likeliest dates for a special election. In order to be held on May 2, Abbott would need to issue a proclamation ordering the election no later than March 26.

Reps. Sheryl Cole (D-Austin), Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), Donna Howard (D-Austin) and Celia Israel (D-Austin) are unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) faces token opposition. All are expected to prevail in the November general election, but the timing of the election could dramatically affect those re-election bids.

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