As Chief Justice Mark Martin’s retirement reshapes the North Carolina Supreme Court, candidates are lining up for the 2020 election.

Martin will be stepping down to take the dean position at Regent University’s law school. Associate Justice Paul Newby has said he will run for the chief justice seat in 2020.

Now Phil Berger Jr., a judge on the N.C. Court of Appeals, is announcing he will run for Newby’s former seat as associate justice.

Phil Berger Jr.

Berger, son of state Senate president pro tem Phil Berger, made the announcement Monday morning on Facebook. He won his position in 2016, knocking off incumbent Linda Stephens in a narrow contest.

“If you think we need a conservative justice on the Supreme Court who is dedicated to the Constitution and the people of this State, please let me know,” Berger wrote.

Martin was one of two Republicans remaining on the seven-member state Supreme Court. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, will get to appoint somebody to fill the role. That would potentially give Democrats a 6-1 advantage.

Republicans have ceded multiple seats on the state’s highest court in recent years. Republican incumbent justice Barbara Jackson just lost in 2018 to Democrat Anita Earls.

The GOP is expected to invest heavily in the state Supreme Court races in 2020.

Cover photo of Phil Berger Jr. via his campaign website.

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