Phil Berger Jr., son of state Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, is interested in running for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court.

On Monday, Jan. 28, Berger Jr. announced on Facebook his interest in running for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court in 2020, when Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby’s term ends. Newby has indicated he plans to run for the chief justice’s seat, which will be open in 2020 because Chief Justice Mark Martin will retire at the end of February. Martin’s successor would have to run in 2020 for a full term on the court.

Berger Jr. now sits on the N.C. Court of Appeals. In 2016 he defeated incumbent Judge Linda Stephens. His term doesn’t end until 2024. Before that, he was the district attorney in Rockingham County.

“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 Jr. posted on his Facebook page.

The announcement comes a few days after Martin announced his retirement. Martin plans to leave the court to become the dean of Regent University’s law school in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Martin’s departure would leave Newby as the only Republican justice on the court. Since 2016, the Supreme Court’s makeup has shifted from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 5-2 Democratic advantage. The court could skew even more to the left with whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper appoints.

Former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr told Carolina Journal that Cooper will likely follow tradition and appoint an associate justice to fill Martin’s seat and then appoint someone from the appellate court to fill the open associate justice’s seat.

As the senior associate justice, tradition suggests Newby would be the prime candidate to succeed Martin. But it’s ultimately up to the governor to fill the vacancy. Cooper could just as easily appoint the senior Democrat on the court, Associate Justice Robin Hudson, to the position.