Rise in precinct chair candidates linked to DA race nominations

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SHERMAN, Tex. (KXII) -- Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown was nominated for US Attorney of the Eastern District of Texas about 4 months ago.

The U.S. Senate could confirm him any day now.

"Once that happens then I will resign probably effective within a week or 10 days or so,” Brown said.

And when Brown resigns, that will spark a special election in November.

Who gets on that ballot won't be decided by the public, but rather a little known publicly elected party office called the precinct chair.

"I did not know that,” Grayson County resident Brittnay Lavy said. “I was very unaware of that."

There are 36 precincts for both Republicans and Democrats, an office that often goes vacant because no one bothers to run for it.

But this time there are two Republican contenders to fill Brown's spot. Both are his Assistant District Attorneys, Britton Brooks and Brett Smith.

The Democrats have one candidate so far, defense lawyer Pamela McGraw.

"There's people running for precinct chairman for the parties right now because those people will ultimately vote on a nominee for a district attorney for a two year term,” Brown said.

In fact, on the Republican side, 20 people signed up to run for the obscure office on the very last day possible in December, each supporting either Brooks or Smith. Sixteen are contested races.

“I honestly don’t think that’s fair at all. I think we should have all choices," Lavy said. "It just blows my mind that they get to pick who our nominee is to vote for."

As for who Brown thinks should replace him?

"Getting involved in politics, I can't and won't take a position on that,” Brown said. “But no matter what Grayson County will be in good hands."

First assistant DA Kerye Ashmore will be acting DA until November once Brown resigns, unless commissioners decide to appoint someone else.

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