John Browning has been appointed to Texas’ 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas, positioning him as the incumbent to retain the Republican seat on the Democrat-dominated court.

“I’m very grateful to Gov. Abbott for this appointment,” Browning told Texas Scorecard. “I’m looking forward to contributing to the important work of the 5th Court of Appeals, and to honoring the memory of my late friend, Justice David Bridges.”

Browning, a Rockwall attorney and legal scholar with over 30 years of trial and appellate experience, will serve the remainder of Bridges’ term on the court, which expires at the end of 2020.

He is also running in November as the GOP’s candidate to keep the Republican-held place on the court, which flipped in 2018 to an 8-5 Democrat majority.

Earlier this month, grassroots GOP activists selected Browning as their party’s nominee to replace Bridges in the race for Place 6 on the appeals court.

Justice Browning will be on the November ballot in six North Texas counties (Collin, Dallas, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, and Rockwall) 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.

Browning will face Democrat Craig Smith in the general election.

Republican Justices David Evans and Bill Whitehill also face Democrat challengers for the other two seats on the court that are up for grabs this November.

In 2018, Democrats swept all eight of the appeals court seats on the ballot, knocking out six Republican incumbents. The “blue wave” was led by failed U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke at the top of the ticket.

November’s election will be the first without a straight-ticket option since the Texas Legislature passed a law ending the practice of casting a straight-party vote with a single mark of the ballot (only a handful of states still allow straight-party voting). The 2017 law takes effect this year, eliminating the automated “coattail” effect from voters simply selecting the party of their preferred top-of-the-ticket candidate.

Republican voters must mark each race on their ballots “from the White House to the courthouse” in order to re-elect conservative judges, as Browning and other judicial candidates are reminding Texans ahead of the presidential election.

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

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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