As former great footballer Herschel Walker prepares for a possible 2022 Republican Senate election in Georgia, his biggest booster is his good friend, former President Donald Trump.
“They love him in Georgia, I’ll tell you, “Trump said last week in a radio interview.
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But the growing likelihood of Walker’s candidacy is causing some Georgian conservatives to scratch their heads.
“He’ll have to show he’s conservative,” former Rep. Doug Collins, a Trump ally, said late last week on his radio show.
As Republicans aim to regain the Senate majority they lost in January when Democrats narrowly swept the second round of Georgia’s Senate elections, they are playing heavily on defense, defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs, including five. open seats – with two of the on the crucial battlefields of Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
But they also see opportunities to switch blue seats to red in four states, including Georgia. And they see Georgia’s Senator Raphael Warnock as one of the most vulnerable Democrats vying for reelection in 2022. Warnock beat Republican Senator named Kelly Loeffler by a very slim margin on January 5, to serve the past two years. from the tenure of former GOP Senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned in 2019 for health reasons.
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Many in the GOP are waiting for signals from Walker. The former professional football star and varsity grill legend in Peach State – he won a Heisman Trophy and helped lead the University of Georgia to a national college football championship – was encouraged by Trump to present themselves to the Senate.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the legendary Herschel Walker ran for the United States Senate in Georgia? Trump wrote in a statement in March. “He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs and in the NFL. He’s a GREAT person too. Run, Herschel, Run!”
And last week the former president said in an interview on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show” that Walker “told me he was going (running) and I think he will.”
“I had dinner with him a week ago,” Trump said of Walker, whose relationship with the former president dates back to when he played for the New Jersey Generals-owned USFL football team. to Trump in the 1980s. “He’s a great guy. He’s a patriot. He’s a very loyal person.”
Walker teased in a tweet last month that he had “Georgia in mind” and said in an accompanying video that he was “getting ready.”
And Fox News confirmed that Walker started building a campaign’s start, reaching out to advisers and political aides.
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Thanks to his strong notoriety in Georgia and Trump’s backing, Walker would be considered the frontrunner for the GOP Senate nomination.
But Walker hasn’t lived in Georgia for decades, so he would have to establish his residence in the state. And Walker has never been a candidate for public office before, which means his position on key issues is up for debate.
“I never heard Herschel Walker’s position on pro-life. I didn’t,” said Collins, who came third behind Warnock and Loeffler in a wide range of special election candidates from November and who briefly considered a 2022 candidacy before ruling it. outside.
“I have never heard his position on gun control. I have never heard his position on many of these issues which are conservative issues,” Collins noted.
Some Georgia Republicans are worried about a possible political train crash if Walker declares his candidacy.
A Republican strategist in Georgia who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely said: “We don’t know what a Herschel Walker candidacy looks like. What type of candidate is he going to be? How is he going to deal with being thrown into the fire? Is he going to be quick? “
And highlighting Walker’s much-publicized battle with mental illness, the strategist said, “Either he’s going into the race and he’s dealing with these issues well and growing up, or he’s going into the race and he’s struggling to explain some. of the problems that arose. his book and he decides it’s not for him. That’s why Georgia Republicans want Herschel Walker to make up his mind a month or two ago.
Four-term Rep Buddy Carter is one of the Republican politicians waiting for Walker. Carter said he would launch a Senate campaign if Walker decided not to run.
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Loeffler could also run again, telling Fox News two weeks ago that “I haven’t ruled anything out.”
Three Georgia Republicans have already entered the race. Most prominent is state agriculture commissioner Gary Black, who declared his candidacy earlier this month. And two little-known military veterans, Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, launched Republican campaigns in the Senate earlier this year.
Former Senator David Perdue, who narrowly lost to current Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s other runoff election in January, declined to run a 2022 candidacy to return to the Senate.
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Georgia has long been a reliable Red State. But President Biden narrowly edged Trump there in November, becoming the first Democrat to win the state in a presidential election in more than a quarter of a century. Two months later, Democrats swept both Senate qualifiers.
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