Former football standout Herschel Walker has officially filed to run for Senate in Georgia, adding a dose of star power to the Republican bench in one of the nation’s premier midterm races.
Walker, who plans to announce his candidacy Wednesday, enters a multi-candidate GOP primary for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock with two crucial advantages the others can’t match: high poll numbers and the full-throated endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly urged him to run.
“He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, and in the NFL,” Trump said in a written statement earlier this year about Walker. “He is also a GREAT person. Run Herschel, run!”
With endorsements like that and a famed football career behind him, Walker instantly becomes the highest-profile Republican seeking to unseat Warnock, who became the first African American from Georgia to serve in the Senate when he won a special election in January. If Walker clears the primary, it would set up a rare matchup between two Black major-party candidates.
Walker’s campaign declined to comment about his forthcoming announcement, but Federal Election Commission paperwork establishing his candidacy and organization was filed Tuesday — capping months of interviewing potential campaign advisers and political pros, including Trump adviser Susie Wiles and Scott Farmer, an adviser to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally.
Though he has the backing of Trump and favorable poll numbers, Republicans close to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have privately expressed concerns about whether Walker is ready for the intense pressure of a campaign that could decide control of the chamber.
Walker was accused by his ex-wife of being “physically abusive” and displaying “extremely threatening behavior.” According to the Associated Press, Walker has also exaggerated the success of his chicken distribution business, Renaissance Man Food Services, and clashed with business partners. Walker openly discussed his mental health challenges by penning a 2008 book, “Breaking Free,” in which he disclosed he had multiple personalities that he was able to overcome due to therapy and his Christian faith.
“He’s a dynamic guy, really charismatic,” said one Georgia Republican who met with Walker and discussed his potential campaign before deciding it wasn’t the right fit. “There are lots of questions about his past. He doesn’t want to really talk about it, and I’m not sure he knows that he’s going to have to talk about it anyway.”
Meanwhile, state elections officials earlier this month began investigating Walker’s current wife, Julie Blanchard, for voting in Georgia’s 2020 elections even though her residency appeared to be in Texas, where the two have lived for years, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Blanchard, Walker’s gatekeeper and top adviser, told the publication that she feels she’s a lawful Georgia resident because she owns a business in the state and holds a Georgia driver's license.
Walker last week changed his voter registration from Texas to Georgia ahead of officially launching his campaign.
Trump’s leadership PAC polled the Georgia Senate race earlier this month and found that Walker pulled 54 percent of likely Republican primary voters and was well ahead of the other candidates including state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, former Trump campaign surrogate Kelvin King and former Navy SEAL and Trump administration official Latham Saddler.
The poll showed that Walker’s support jumped to 67 percent if voters were informed he had Trump’s endorsement. Other polls show Walker, at this stage, comes close to tying Warnock in a theoretical general-election matchup.
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