The GOP needs Trump-loving soccer champion Herschel Walker in Teflon

Republican candidate for the Senate Herschel walker waltzed through its Georgia primary on Tuesday. He will face the incumbent Democratic senator Raphael Warnock, a black religious leader in the state, in a critical November race that could tip the balance of power in the Senate in favor of the GOP. Donald Trump, who picked Walker for the race, has spent the last year promoting his campaign and solidifying Republican support for the 60-year-old former soccer icon. The duo’s friendship dates back to the 1980s, when Walker played for the Trump-owned New Jersey Generals of the former United States Football League. But Walker, a former Heisman-winning running back at the University of Georgia with no prior political experience, faced a steady stream of scandals throughout his candidacy, the most serious stemming from allegations of domestic abuse and violent threats against former romantic partners. Even so, Republicans feel they have found the golden ticket with Walker: a black, Trump-loving football star from the Southeastern Conference. According to Republican strategists, the GOP is banking on this biography carrying the party to a majority in the Senate.

“It would be as if Michael Jordan decided to race in North Carolina,” says Doug Hey, a Republican strategist. “Everyone knows who Herschel is and pretty much everyone approves of him, which gives him a huge advantage of not having to show up and not having to spend a lot of money on ads.”

And given that 32.6% of Georgia’s population is black — and Walker will likely face Warnock, a prominent black leader who boosted voter turnout in Georgia’s 2021 runoff — Republicans hope Walker can expand the Republican electorate. In Walker, the GOP believes it has found a “credible and serious candidate who is African-American … which will help confront [Warnock]an African-American pastor,” Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak recount Vanity Room.

The key to Walker’s success in the Republican Party is that he kept both Trump and Mitch McConnell in his corner. However, McConnell might not have had much choice in the matter; Walker and his high favor numbers make him the betting favorite for a Georgia-led Republican takeover of the Senate. According to the senator Lindsey Graham, one of Walker’s staunchest supporters, the Senate Minority Leader described the Trump-recruited nominee as “the real deal,” according to CNN. And unlike JD Vance and Masters Blake, two Republican Senate candidates running as “America First” paleoconservatives, Walker did not cast himself as an insurgent populist threat to the established GOP order. Most of his political positions are typical of the post-Trump conservative and lack the hard ideological substance that threatens McConnell’s agenda. His campaign website features a mix of conservative positions, including promises to “secure” the US-Mexico border, support the police and military, and “uphold conservative family values.” The front page of his campaign site reads: “Walker is a small-town Georgia kid who lived the American dream, and now he’s running for the United States Senate to keep that dream alive for you. also.”

But he is not without skeletons. According to a CNN investigation, Walker repeatedly fabricated his accomplishments, misdescribing himself as a high school valedictorian and University of Georgia graduate. Even more notable is a list of abuse allegations against him. In 2008, Cindy Grosman, Walker’s ex-wife told CNN he once held a razor to his throat and repeatedly pointed a gun at his head. Walker has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations, although he told CNN at the time that he had no recollection of the incidents and claimed it may have been caused by mental breakdowns related to his dissociative disorder. of identity. In another incident, a woman told police that Walker threatened to “blow his head off” and then “blow his head off,” according to a 2012 police report. was brought against Walker, and Walker’s campaign “categorically” denied the “false allegations” after they surfaced in April last year.) In 2002, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader accused Walker of stalking her, according to a police report. , an allegation that Walker’s campaign has said he denies. (No charges have been filed.)

His campaign attempted to brush off questions about these claims by stating that Walker has been open about his dissociation issues for years and has fully recovered from the disorder. In a December statement to Axios, Walker vaguely insisted he was “responsible” for his past actions.

Some Republicans are unconvinced. “He will have a better chance of winning the overall [election] if he addresses these issues that are out there from his past,” the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Georgia said, Geoff Duncan, in a recent night line interview. “If he doesn’t, then I think it’s going to be a tough day in Georgia when we get to the November election, and we’re unfortunately going to be sending another Democrat to represent us as a U.S. senator.” Duncan did not endorse a candidate in the race’s crowded primary.

He also, like Trump, presents himself as a virtuoso in the business world, saying he built a business empire after retiring from football in 1997 and built a net worth of over $29 million. through several affiliates of H. Walker Enterprises, LLC. . His most successful company appears to be Renaissance Man Food Services, a poultry products company that Walker described as a “mini Tyson Foods” that controls numerous chicken processing plants. Its other claims include calling it the largest minority-owned food company in the United States. But in a 2018 lawsuit against H. Walker Enterprises, revealed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he admitted that the company did not own any chicken processing facilities, but simply partnered with factories to sell branded products bearing his name. “I don’t mean ‘clean’ in a technical sense,” Walker said in a court statement at the time. It remains unclear what Walker’s role is within the company that bears his name.

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