Herschel Walker, a former football star backed by Donald Trump, won the Republican nomination for a Georgia Senate seat on Tuesday, bringing significant star power and raising deep GOP concerns about wresting the post from Democrats in November.
Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner and major celebrity in football-friendly Georgia, was encouraged to run by former President Donald Trump. He launched his campaign in August, despite a lack of political experience and a history of domestic abuse allegations.
Walker’s primary victory has some Republicans nervous. He has never held elected office and lived mostly in Texas for the past decade. He’s also been dogged by news reports that he exaggerated his claims of business success and has faced serious allegations of domestic abuse. His campaign has rejected the accusations as a “political hit job.”
Still, Walker has seen deep support from Georgia Republicans — and Trump — and he’s amassed a $10 million campaign war chest in the past nine months.
“I go into these cities and give people hope,” Walker told The New York Times last month. “Most everybody in Georgia knows who I am. The people that want to try to deny they know who I am aren’t from Georgia. Let’s be real.”
Walker faces a fierce November election against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who won his seat during Georgia’s special election in 2020 to become the first Black person to represent Georgia in the Senate. Warnock, too, has raised gargantuan sums, reaping more than $13 million in the first quarter of 2022.
Some Republican leaders have questioned Walker’s strategy in the race, noting he hasn’t participated in primary debates or typical campaign stops.
One of his primary opponents, state Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black, ripped Walker for ducking debates.
“Georgia deserves to know the details,” Black told ABC News. “There’s a pattern of deflect, defer, run, hide, twist. It’s unacceptable for service in the United States Senate.”