In the race for Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5, Brent Webster has been working hard to earn votes for the state’s top appellate court for criminal cases. Supported by conservative organizations such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life, and Texas Values, the conservative Williamson County prosecutor is crisscrossing the state meeting with voters.
Meanwhile his opponent, attorney Richard “Scott” Walker, isn’t campaigning—at all.
Despite making the runoff, Walker still is a rare sight on the campaign trail. Instead, voters are treated to Brian Walker, who appears as a self-appointed surrogate on behalf of “busy dad.”
During the primary, several Texas newspapers took notice of Walker’s inactivity. “The fourth candidate, Scott Walker, is a criminal defense attorney in Texas who has chosen not to campaign,” reported the Bryan-College Station Eagle. “Scott Walker … appears not to be actively campaigning. He declined to fill out a candidate questionnaire or meet with the editorial board,” said The Dallas Morning News.
“Webster is largely campaigning on abortion issues… Walker isn’t campaigning at all,” noted the Houston Chronicle.
With no real campaign apparatus, many political observers conclude that “Scott” Walker only made it to the runoff due to name similarity with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Mark Pulliam, a conservative activist and attorney, summarized the rationale in National Review:
“In a down-ticket race for an appellate court unfamiliar to most laymen, GOP primary voters apparently thought the governor of Wisconsin was running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — or were prompted to vote for ‘Scott Walker’ because they vaguely recognized the name. The confusion led to the anomaly of the electoral equivalent of a potted plant getting over 800,000 votes!”
Pulliam further argues that the result of Texans’ selecting Walker a second time would go beyond simply placing a poor steward of justice on the court. A Walker victory would also allow critics of judicial elections to point to the incident as evidence that the electorate can’t be trusted to choose their own judges.
Such a change would be very dangerous for Texans. The increasingly political court has been the final stop for a number of Democrat-initiated witch-hunts against conservatives. Prominent figures such as Tom DeLay and Rick Perry have been subject to prolonged legal battles, but vindicated once the process reached the state’s top criminal court.
Sham proceedings are currently ongoing against Attorney General Ken Paxton and the establishment is salivating to indict other conservative voices. In such an environment, conservatives have a vested interest in ensuring the judges that serve on the state’s highest criminal court be of good credentials, character, and commitment to the Constitution. Texans must be especially thorough in vetting those they choose as the last line of defense for their liberties.