Nueces County Republicans are fuming that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott chose someone with a “hard Democrat” voting record to replace the rogue district attorney who quit last month.

Mark Gonzalez, a progressive Democrat, resigned as Nueces County District Attorney on September 5. 

Abbott announced on Friday that he appointed DWI defense attorney James “Jimmy” Granberry to fill the remainder of Gonzalez’s term ending December 31, 2024.

Granberry’s voting history shows he is a “hard Democrat.” His law practice partner John Gilmore was Gonzalez’s campaign treasurer.

“Everyone here takes it as a slap in the face to the Republican Party,” Suzanne Guggenheim, head of the Coastal Bend Republican Coalition, told Texas Scorecard.

Local GOP grassroots are upset Abbott chose Granberry over the well-qualified Republican candidate they endorsed, James Sales.

Last month, Nueces County Republican Party precinct chairs interviewed four of the candidates under consideration. Sales was the overwhelming favorite, receiving votes from 30 of the 35 precinct chairs present.

“The job is to prosecute the law on the books,” Sales said, adding that Gonzalez enforced “his opinion, not the law.”

Gonzalez said he was quitting to run for U.S. Senate, but residents say he resigned rather than face a civil lawsuit to remove him from office “due to incompetency, official misconduct, and failure to give bond.”

Colby Wiltse, a Nueces County resident and Texas State Director for the conservative advocacy group County Citizens Defending Freedom, filed the petition to remove Gonzalez in January.

Gonzalez’ First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez was also accused of “gross negligence” and incompetence for misconduct during a murder trial. Hernandez resigned a couple of weeks after Gonzalez. 

Nueces County Republican Party Chair Carmen Calderone Jr. said Gonzalez left the DA’s office in “shambles.”

It took Abbott five weeks to choose a replacement. Local Republicans have questioned whether Granberry will be an improvement over Gonzalez.

Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi called Abbott’s appointment of Granberry “terrible” and said, “Republicans need to stop appointing Democrats to positions of power.”

Gonzalez was narrowly re-elected in 2020 over Republican Jon West with 51 percent of the vote.

Granberry said he will run to retain the DA position in 2024. Abbott’s appointment gives him the edge as an incumbent.

Abbott did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.