AUSTIN, Texas – Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, announced Tuesday he will be resigning from the Texas Senate to take a job at the University of Houston.

In an emailed statement, Watson said he will be the "Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs," calling it an “extraordinary opportunity.”

"I love being in the Senate. I love being in elected office and have done it for a while now. And the only reason I would leave is if there were a very significant and unique and compelling platform for continued public service, and I see this as that sort of thing," Sen. Watson said during a news conference at the Capitol Tuesday.

His resignation is effective April 30. Watson has represented the Austin area since 2007. Prior to serving as a state senator, Watson was the mayor of Austin.

Watson's early departure will set off a special election to serve the rest of the term, which will end in 2023. Gov. Greg Abbott will set the date for a special election.

The race to replace Watson is likely to be a crowded one with a number of Democrats already announcing they're eyeing the seat.

Those who have said they are looking into a possible campaign include state Reps. Eddie Rodriguez and Donna Howard, D-Austin, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, immigration lawyer Chito Vela III, and Austin lawyer Adam Loewy.

Watson told reporters Tuesday morning he has no plans to get involved in the race.

"I would be surprised if you didn't have multiple people running. And I would be even more surprised if you didn't have multiple really good people running," he said.