Editor's note: This story has been updated.
A candidate who ran a low-key campaign and shares a name with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won the GOP runoff race for a seat on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Walker, a criminal defense attorney from Fort Worth, drew 58 percent of the vote, or 207,195 votes, in Tuesday's primary runoff over Williamson County Assistant District Attorney Brent Webster, according to complete but unofficial returns. Webster hauled in 150,722 votes, or support of 42 percent of voters.
The other Republican runoff for a seat on the court was much closer. State District Court Judge Mary Lou Keel of Harris County won with 50.95 percent of the vote against state District Court Judge Ray Wheless of Collin County.
The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest criminal court in Texas, doling out rulings on contentious issues including appeals for all death penalty cases in the state. Despite the court's role in major statewide political issues – including its recent dismissal of the abuse-of-power case against former Gov. Rick Perry – candidates for the court have struggled to gain visibility through their campaigns.
Walker said he won Tuesday night not because he shared a name with a former Republican presidential candidate, but because he spent a lot of time campaigning.
"Let me quell any suspicion that the victory was attributable to my name," Walker said Tuesday via a Facebook message. "I personally spoke with well over 10,000 voters over the past several weeks. It was clear that my message resonated with them and that they wanted me on the Court of Criminal Appeals as opposed to my young opponent."
Tuesday's Republican winners will both face a Democratic opponent in November. Walker, the winner for Place 5, will face Betsy Johnson while Keel, the Place 2 Republican winner, will compete against incumbent Judge Larry Meyers, the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Texas.
Meyers was elected to Place 2 on the court as a Republican, but switched parties in 2013. Throughout the campaign, Wheless said Keel could "pull a Meyers" if elected because her husband is a Democrat. Keel, who is a member of the Federalist Society and the National Rifle Association, disputed his accusations.
Keel, in turn, tried to poke holes in Wheless' legal credentials because, unlike Keel, he does not have a certification in criminal law.
Wheless failed his certification exam in 2007 and documents obtained by the Tribune showed he pledged to re-take the exam in 2009, 2014 and 2015, although he would not say how many times he took the test. Four of the nine judges currently sitting on the Court of Criminal Appeals do not have board certification in criminal law.
Keel won 39 percent of the vote in the March primary, while Wheless drew 35 percent. The third candidate, Chris Oldner, won 25 percent.
In the March 1 race for Place 5, Walker drew 41 percent of the vote in the four-person primary after little campaigning. Webster, who secured 20 percent of primary votes, said Walker "lucked out on election day" because he shares a name with the Wisconsin governor.