Texas: Bill would allow judges to put word “incumbent” next to their name on ballot; similar provision used in other states

Sitting Texas judges may be able to designate themselves as “incumbent” judges if a bill introduced last week is approved. Under SB 286 a judge already in office facing a primary or runoff primary may request that the ballot indicate the candidate’s incumbency adjacent to the candidate’s name.”

The practice of allowing judges to self-identify as incumbents is not unprecedented.

  • Arkansas: A.C.A. § 7-7-305 let judges of the state’s higher courts (Supreme, Court of Appeals, Circuit, and District) be identified on the ballot as Judge John Doe, even if running for a higher court (i.e. a Circuit Judge running for Supreme Court Justice). For example when she ran for the Supreme Court in 2014, Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne was identified on the ballot as “Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne”
  • California: Cal Elec Code § 13107 allows for the words “incumbent” or “appointed incumbent” to be used.
  • Michigan: several statutes depending on court type allow for the word “incumbent”, among them MCLS § 168.409b (Court of Appeals), § 168.424a (Circuit), § 168.426d (Municipal Courts of Record), § 168.433 (Probate), and § 168.467b (District).
  • Minnesota: Minn. Stat. § 204B.36 provides a judge may use “incumbent” after that judge’s name.

SB 286 has been prefiled for the 2015 session.