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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Write-in Candidate Will Take County District Court Race

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301st State District Court Judge candidates, left to right: Michelle McKinney, Judge Mary Brown, and Earl Jackson. | Images from respective campaigns

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The race for the 301st State District Court of Dallas County is unusual, as all three contenders are running as write-in candidates.

All three candidates running as “write-ins” means voters will not see any names on the ballot for the race and will have to manually “write in” the name of their preferred candidate to cast their vote.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Michael Scarpello told the Dallas Morning News he could not remember another local race without a single candidate on the ballot.

“Write-ins rarely have a chance at winning, but in this particular race, it’s highly unusual,” Scarpello said.

The results of the race will not come in on Election Day, said Scarpello, because write-in votes must be hand-counted, unlike other races where results are determined electronically. 

The three write-in candidates are incumbent Mary Brown, a Democrat; Earl Jackson, a Republican; and Michelle McKinney, a Democrat.

Brown, who was elected in the 2014 Democratic Party primary, is not on the ballot reportedly because her political consultant did not file a petition with the needed number of signatures with the party ahead of the December deadline.

Candidates typically file to run in a March primary by December before the winner advances to the November general election. Write-in candidates can file in July and August.

Brown, 62, is a Dallas native and 1986 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center. She previously served in an associate judgeship role for the Dallas County family courts in 1996 until she was first elected. 

The incumbent is presiding over the highly publicized custody battle of then-8-year-old James Younger. The child’s father, Jeff Younger, is fighting to stop his child’s gender transition, while the mother, Anne Georgulas, said the child, assigned male at birth, wants to identify as a girl.

Brown awarded full custody to Georgulas, with the caveat that Jeff Younger could have a say over any medical procedures relating to sex-change operations. The judge also lifted restrictions requiring the mother, a pediatrician, to live in Texas with the kids.

The judge’s ruling against Younger, who lost the May Republican primary runoff for Texas House District 63, drew criticism from the local group Protect Texas Kids.

Activists with Protect Texas Kids protested outside Brown’s house on October 22.

The criticism Brown has garnered over the case has the local Republican party believing it has a chance to reclaim the seat.

Dallas County Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Stoddard-Hajdu said that Jackson has the party’s full support. 

“Because of the novelty of this race, he (Jackson) is getting a lot more attention than he would in a regular judicial race,” she told The Texan. “We expect lower participation in this race just because of the process to write in a name, but I also expect it will largely be party faithful and highly informed voters who participate.”

Jackson, 61, is a Dallas native and graduate of the Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M University School of Law. He has over 30 years of experience practicing law. 

McKinney, 49, graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2011, then moved to Dallas to join Bishop T.D. Jakes’ ministry at The Potter’s House, where she is still a member. She has practiced law in Dallas County ever since.

Neither Jackson nor McKinney has previously run for elected office.

The civil court is a state family court with county-wide jurisdiction that handles family matters such as divorces, restraining orders, and child custody disputes.

The final day to vote is election day, November 8. 

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