Kirk Watson (born March 18, 1958) is a Texas attorney and Democratic politician from Austin. He served as Austin mayor from 1997 to 2001. He ran unsuccessfully for Texas Attorney General in the 2002 election, defeated by the Republican Greg Abbott. In 2006, Watson was elected to the Texas State Senate from District 14.
Watson is the husband of Liz (Elizabeth Anne McDaniel) and father of Preston McDaniel and Cooper Kyle Watson.
Kirk Preston Watson was born March 18, 1958 in Oklahoma City and grew up in the Fort Worth, Texas area, attended public school in Saginaw, Texas. Watson attended Baylor University in Waco where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 and a J.D. in 1981. While attending Baylor Law School Watson was editor-in-chief of the Baylor Law Review and graduated first in his law school class. He subsequently clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Early in his career as a trial lawyer Watson was elected President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association and in 1994 was named the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. In the early 1990s Watson co-founded the Austin law firm of Watson Bishop London Brophy, P.C. and focused on medical malpractice law.
In 1991 Watson was appointed by Texas Governor Ann Richards to serve as Chair of the Texas Air Control Board, the state agency that was charged with addressing air quality in Texas.
Watson was active in Democratic party politics throughout the 1990s including service as Chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party.
In 1997 Watson was elected mayor of Austin, a position which he held until 2001 when he stepped down to run unsuccessfully for Texas attorney general.
Watson was elected Senator for the Texas Senate, District 14 in November 2006, succeeding Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos. Watson was unopposed in the March 2005 Democratic Primary when Sen. Barrientos chose not to run for reelection.
Watson currently serves on many committees including the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), of which he is board Chairman.
The July 2007 Texas Monthly magazine recognized Sen. Watson as "rookie of the year" for the 2007 session of the Texas Legislature.
On October 8, 2007, the CAMPO board approved expanding several existing highways (U.S. Highway 290, U.S. Highway 183, and State Highway 71) by adding tolled express lanes to existing non-tolled, signalized roads. During the votes, the board was heckled with shouts of "Political suicide!" and catcalls, with one protester holding a sign saying "Watson won't listen".
Following Senator Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 Wisconsin Democratic Primary Election on February 19, 2008, Watson appeared via live feed on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews as a supporter of Senator Obama, whom Watson had endorsed. During the interview, Matthews asked Watson to name one of Senator Obama's legislative accomplishments. After Watson was unable to list one of Obama's accomplishments, Matthews responded, "You’ve supported him for president, you’re on national television, name his legislative accomplishments, Barack Obama’s, sir." After Watson was excused, Matthews commented, "He is here to defend Barack Obama and he had nothing to say; that’s a problem."
Watson later wrote on his personal website, "...my mind went blank. I expected to be asked about the primary that night, or the big one coming up in Texas on March 4, or just about anything else in the news. When the subject changed so emphatically, I reached for information that millions of my fellow Obama supporters could recite by heart, and I couldn’t summon it."
Election history of Watson.