Yesterday, CraftPAC, the political action committee of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, announced the endorsement of Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) for Texas Senate. Rodriguez, an eight-term veteran of the Texas House of Representatives, is currently running in the Special Election for SD-14, the seat previously occupied by longtime Senator Kirk Watson, who announced his retirement earlier this year to become dean of the University of Houston Hobby School for Public Affairs.
Representative Rodriguez has long been a champion for small and independent Texas craft brewers, and in 2019 authored HB 672 — the “Beer-To-Go” bill — to make Texas the ﬁnal state in the country to legalize take-home sales from craft breweries. After the Beer-To-Go bill failed to receive a committee hearing despite its broad bipartisan and public support, Rodriguez took the bill to the ﬂoor of the house as an amendment to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Sunset Bill, where is passed by a narrow margin on a roll-call vote. Ultimately becoming law on September 1, 2019, the Beer-To-Go bill has been heralded by many as the underdog victory of the 86th legislative session.
In announcing CraftPAC’s support for Rodriguez, Adam DeBower, chair of CraftPAC and co-owner/cofounder of Austin Beerworks, emphasized what a lifeline Beer-To-Go has been for many Texas brewers during the current COVID-19 crisis. As Texas’ 360+ brewery taprooms, as well as the thousands of bars and restaurants those breweries rely on for keg sales, closed their doors for on-premise gathering in March, curbside Beer-To-Go became the only way for Texans to access beer directly from local breweries and helped to keep the lights on for these small businesses who faced, according to a survey of Texas Craft Brewers Guild members, a 71 percent average reduction in revenue.
“It will be because of Eddie Rodriguez that Texas craft breweries weather this crisis,” DeBower said. “He’s been a steadfast champion for small businesses and craft industries, and it has been inspiring to watch him reach across the aisle to pass real and meaningful legislation. I know ﬁrst hand that Eddie will sit down with anyone, listen, and work to ﬁnd common ground to help his constituents. I’m proud to support Eddie because he is not afraid to ﬁght for what’s right, and we need more of that kind of leadership in the senate.”
In receiving CraftPAC’s endorsement, Representative Rodriguez acknowledged the devastating economic impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on the food and beverage industry and his commitment to ﬁghting for Texas small businesses.
“I am honored to be endorsed by CraftPAC,” Representative Rodriguez said. “As an advocate for working families and small businesses, I have heard from countless brewers and their employees that the pandemic and economic crisis have completely changed their lives. I am proud that Beer-to-Go has provided a vital source of revenue for many craft breweries, but it is clear that we have more tough times and much work ahead of us to ensure the vitality of the Texas craft beer industry. As an advocate for small businesses and for my community, I am looking forward to continuing to work together with Texas craft brewers.”
The Special Election will be held on Tuesday, July 14 with early voting beginning Monday, June 29. The last day to register to vote and be eligible to participate in the Special Election is Monday, June 15.