Republican grassroots activists from six North Texas counties have selected John Browning as their party’s nominee to replace the late Justice David Bridges in the race for Texas’ 5th Court of Appeals, Place 6.

On Saturday, by a vote of 134-58, Republican Party precinct chairs from Collin, Dallas, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties chose the Rockwall attorney and legal scholar to be their new candidate on the November ballot.

Bridges, who ran unopposed in the March GOP primary, was killed last month in a car crash caused by a suspected drunk driver.

The precinct chairs tasked with picking a replacement represent the counties served by the 5th Court of Appeals, which is based in Dallas and has jurisdiction over civil and criminal appeals from district and county courts in the region.

“Grassroots activists are excited to select John Browning to represent us as the Republican nominee on the ballot for 5th Court of Appeals,” Collin County GOP precinct chair Debbie Bonenberger told Texas Scorecard following the vote. “His victory—receiving 70 percent of the precinct chair votes of six counties—sends a resounding message on behalf of conservatives.”

Browning, who ran for a place on the court in 2018, has 30 years of trial and appellate experience and also teaches trial and appellate judges. State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), whose district includes Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties, backed Browning.

Judge Ashley Wysocki was the only other contender. Wysocki, a family law specialist, was appointed to the 254th District Court in 2019, becoming the lone Republican district court judge in Dallas County until last month’s appointment of Mike Lee as judge of the 95th District Court. Wysocki will face Democrat Kim Brown in November.

This is the second time in two weeks grassroots GOP activists met to pick a new nominee for the November ballot, with precinct chairs from Grayson and Hunt counties participating in both caucuses.

Last Saturday, local activists in Northeast Texas convened to select a new nominee for the 4th Congressional District. The district’s former representative, John Ratcliffe, ran unopposed in the March GOP primary but was confirmed in May to serve as Director of National Intelligence, leaving an open spot on the ballot.

Republicans chose State Sen. Pat Fallon as their new congressional candidate, and he is expected to win the safely red district.

Browning will face Democrat Craig Smith in November.

Early voting, which was expanded by the governor due to coronavirus concerns, starts on October 13. Election Day is November 3.

Updated on August 16 to reflect Republican Judge Mike Lee’s appointment to the 95th District Court in Dallas County.

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.

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