Dallas County GOP Replaces County Judge Candidate Three Months Ahead of Midterms

The Dallas County Republican Party is switching horses as it comes down the homestretch ahead of November's general election. Tuesday, the party announced that it's replacing its candidate for county judge, the county's highest office, with a former justice of the peace kicked out of his own race earlier this year because he couldn't collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.

"Today the Dallas County Republican Party Executive Committee nominated and approved me to serve as precinct chair so I can turn my attention to pressing business matters and family," former Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel said on Facebook late Tuesday afternoon. "Judge Brian Hutcheson was nominated and approved by the Executive Committee to replace me as our nominee for county judge. These ballot changes were certified and delivered to the proper authority in compliance with Texas Election Code."

The election code allows for a county party's executive committee to replace a candidate if "the candidate has been elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in another elective office or has become the nominee for another office." That's why Gottel, who received widespread praise for his leadership after Rowlett's 2015 tornado, has been appointed to serve as a precinct chair.

Dallas County elections officials did not immediately respond to questions about how they would handle the switch.

According to the Dallas GOP, the switch is merely an example of "democracy in action."

"Unfortunately, the radical left ... has hijacked the Democratic Party and will go to extreme lengths to cast this exercise in democracy in the wrong light," the party said in a statement about the change. "They got it wrong in 2016 and they’re getting it wrong in 2018."

As of late Tuesday, the Dallas County Democratic Party has not commented on the Dallas GOP's switcheroo.

The Dallas GOP's new nominee, Hutcheson, lost his spot in the race for the job he holds, Dallas County justice of the peace for Precinct 2 in Garland, in July after an investigation by WFAA found multiple addresses that did not exist and signatures from individuals who said they hadn't signed his ballot application.

The justice of the peace, who says on his campaign website that he "represent[s] our Christian values in all actions and proceedings" in his courtroom, did not return the Observer's call Tuesday. Assuming the county GOP is successful in getting Hutcheson on the ballot, he will be a long shot in November as he attempts to take down popular Democratic County Judge Clay Jenkins in what's become a deep blue Dallas County.

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