A key judicial race in Dallas County has no party nominees on the November ballot—a unique situation that Republicans are hoping to seize to write in a conservative and rid the bench of a Democrat they say is notorious for supporting medical mutilation of gender-confused minors.

“We have an opportunity to win a family court seat for a candidate with traditional family values,” said Cindi Castilla, a conservative activist in Dallas.

Castilla is backing Republican Earl Jackson, who is challenging Democrat incumbent Judge Mary Brown. Yet neither candidate’s name appears on the ballot.

The ballot is blank for judge of the 301st District Court, a state family court in Dallas. Voters must manually enter a name.

There are three declared write-in candidates: Mary Brown, Earl Jackson, and Michelle McKinney.

Judge Brown is seeking re-election to a third term. She was forced to file as a write-in candidate after she was disqualified from the Democrat primary for failing to submit enough valid signatures on a required petition.

Brown is the judge in the nationally known custody fight documented in “Saving James—Ending Child Mutilation in Texas.” She granted custody of Jeff Younger’s twin boys to Younger’s ex-wife, the boys’ stepmother, who had begun treating one of the boys (James) like a girl when he was a toddler. The judge also allowed James’ stepmother to put the boy on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones that would chemically castrate him, without his father’s consent.

Last month, conservative activists protested Brown’s latest ruling that the stepmother can move Jeff Younger’s boys out of state to “medically transition” James.

Brown was originally the only contender for the seat. Her disqualification from the Democrat primary left the ballot blank.

No Republican ran against Brown in 2014 or 2018, and this year the Dallas County GOP once again failed to field a candidate, missing an opportunity to have a Republican be the only name printed on the ballot.

But Republicans are rallying around a write-in candidate of their own, Earl Jackson, a board-certified family law specialist with more than 25 years of experience.

“Let’s elect a judge who won’t allow children to be sterilized!” said Jill Glover, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and head of the party’s Legislative Priorities Committee.

Banning the so-called “gender modification” of children—including “chemical castration, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, genital mutilation, bodily alteration surgery, psychological/social transitioning, and any other methods applied to or performed on children”— is one of the Texas GOP’s top legislative priorities for the upcoming 2023 session. The priority is a carryover from the 2021 session, when the Republican-led Legislature failed to address the issue.

The third write-in candidate, family law attorney Michelle McKinney, doesn’t proclaim a party affiliation, but her Facebook page features photos with Democrat candidates, including Beto O’Rourke.

All write-in candidates are officially identified as “Independent” because they are not nominees of a party.

Early voting is underway now through November 4. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

Voting information can be found on the Dallas County Elections website.

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.