With the July runoff elections out of the way, a different kind of race is shaping up in Midland: six candidates are hoping to be appointed to a recently vacated state district court position.

Judge Robin Darr of the 385th District Court, which encompasses all of Midland County, officially retired at the end of February, leaving the judicial seat vacant and opening a contest where hopeful successors must undergo a two-step procedure to obtain the office.

Vacancies in state district courts are filled by applying for and receiving an appointment by the governor of Texas.

Once appointed, the judge will begin serving almost immediately. To continue serving, the candidate will have to win in November’s general election. The Midland County Republican Party precinct chairs would vote to put the appointee on the November ballot as the Republican nominee.

The list of candidates who’ve applied to Gov. Abbott for appointment includes James Harwood, Rebecca Linehan, Susannah Prucka, Leah Robertson, Andrew Van Der Hoeven, and Mary Baker.

Texas Scorecard spoke with Midland GOP Chairwoman Sherri Merket, who said the Republican executive committee plans to meet and interview the candidates next week. The committee, made up of locally elected precinct chairs, will then vote on an official recommendation to the governor’s office for the appointment.

“We have a highly qualified group of applicants to choose from, and I think it is going to be an exciting process,” Merket said.

Two of the candidates recently sought elected office in Midland County, with Linehan having challenged incumbent Midland County attorney Russel Malm in the March Republican primary, and Baker recently competing against David Rogers for another district court seat in the July runoff election.

The new judge who’s appointed and wins the November election will begin serving a four-year term starting January 1.

Matt Stringer

Matthew Stringer is from Odessa, TX and serves as a West Texas Correspondent for Texas Scorecard.