Georgia’s 2022 U.S. Senate race could tip control of the chamber back to Republicans, and that has party officials scrambling to tackle a Trump-endorsed celebrity before he can make a run.
Former NFL star Herschel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy as a Georgia Bulldog, has earned Trump’s endorsement to be the Republican Party nominee against incumbent Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock.
But allegations of domestic abuse and troublesome business dealings have top Republicans looking to cut Walker from the candidate roster.
“Some of it’s pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that’s true,” Sen. John Cornyn tells POLITICO, referring to yet-unproven allegations by Walker’s ex-wife he threatened to kill her. “I want to win that race. And to the extent that he’s handicapped by some of these things that would make that unlikely, I’d prefer to have somebody else.”
“He’s got the wow factor, the celebrity factor … But some of these issues he’s going to have to figure out how to answer,” added Sen. John Thune.
“As a candidate you have to be able to respond to hard questions. And your background becomes an issue, your experience becomes an issue,” said Thune. “Sometimes people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it’s not as easy as it looks.”
Walker has openly admitted to struggling with psychological issues but denies threatening his ex-wife.
Given his celebrity and folk hero status to many in Georgia, Walker would have a passionate following as a candidate, but party officials worry he won’t be able to win over swing voters and fear more allegations may surface in a blue-trending state where they already lost a presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats.
Others are encouraging Walker to run, such as South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.
“He represents Georgia better than Warnock, he’s conservative with people’s money, he’s fiscally and socially conservative,” said Graham. “He’s been successful, he’s struggled, he’s a real person.”
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