ATLANTA(AP) — Herschel Scott Walker stated that he “can’t sit on the sidelines anymore” when he entered the Republican U.S. Senate Race in Georgia. He’s running with some definite advantages — including his football fame and the support of former President Donald Trump — but also with a lot of unknowns in his effort to beat Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022.
“America’s greatest country is America, but too many politicians in Washington are afraid of saying that,” Walker stated Wednesday in his first statement as Senate candidate after he filed to run Tuesday. “Where else can a poor boy from Georgia be valedictorian of his highschool, win the Heisman Trophy, play pro football, represent the United States at the Olympics and become the CEO of multiple companies?” I have lived the American Dream, but I am concerned it is slipping away for many people.”
Walker faces some key questions: Will the first-time candidate prove to be a good politician and fundraiser? What will voters think of his sometimes difficult personal history ?? Can Walker attract back moderates once elected to the party and re-elect some traditional Democratic African Americans?
Those hurdles could be harder to leap than the defenders the 59-year-old Walker overcame on his way to a Heisman Trophy as a University of Georgia running back in 1982. Charles Bullock, University of Georgia political science professor, said
“Herschel found that it was easy to run over NFL linemen and backs. “He’s just starting out and may not have many blockers in front. I think he will find this is going be a lot more difficult If Walker wins the Republican primary, there would be two Black men competing for a seat at the heart of the Deep South. Walker must first get past the Republicans running, including Gary Black, the state Agriculture Commissioner, and Latham Saddler, a former bank executive and Navy veteran, and Kelvin King, the contractor.
Another potential opponent is the Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter endorsed Walker on Wednesday, bowing out of a possible candidacy.
Walker was fondly known as Team Herschel when he declared his candidacy Tuesday before the Federal Election Commission. Trump may be his primary teammate. Their relationship dates to the 1980s, when Walker played for a Trump-owned team in the short-lived United States Football League. Walker, who went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL, spoke in support of Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention and later attended Trump’s private birthday celebration.
Trump encouraged Walker to run for the primary. He said on a radio program in June that he was a great man, a patriot, and a loyal person. He’s also a strong person. They love him in Georgia, I’m telling you With Trump being the “defining figure” of today’s GOP, Bullock stated that Walker might only need Trump’s support.
” If he tells them to vote for Herschel, that’s the strongest endorsement that he can get,” Bullock stated.
But Trump’s support could prove to be a liability in a closely divided Georgia.
” “By the end this long, divisive and expensive intra-party battle, it will be clear that none these candidates are focused upon the issues that matter most for Georgians,” Dan Gottlieb, spokesperson for the Georgia Democratic Party, said in a statement.
Walker may share a Republican ticket alongside Gov. As Kemp seeks to reelect himself, Brian Kemp is a frequent target for Trump attacks. Trump has threatened vengeance on Kemp, claiming that he failed to do enough to reverse Trump’s election loss. It is unclear if this enmity will hurt Republican chances. Democrats could field a united ticket of Stacey Abrams and Warnock. Walker endorsed Kemp, a fervent Georgia football fan, in Kemp’s 2018 victory over Abrams.
Warnock has already raised $10.5 million for the 2022 race but has downplayed Walker’s entry. He is now touring the state to promote a jobs agenda.
“And, I hear there’s another race next year,” Warnock said to the Atlanta Press Club last week when asked questions about Walker.
Black has criticized Walker for his absence from Georgia and did so again Tuesday in an online “welcoming” Walker into the race and challenging him Saturday to attend a Republican fish fry south of Macon.
” “I suppose I’ve always desired an autograph,” Black said holding up a worn football. “But there are some things that are far more important now: the future of our country, the future of our families.”
Sadler said in a statement that he’s a better choice as a “next generation conservative leader who can beat Raphael Warnock.”
“This campaign isn’t about the glories of yesterday; it’s about our nation’s future,” Sadler said.
Walker is a Texas resident and is running for his first office. Walker is among Trump supporters who continue to repeat the president’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through fraud. Election officials found no widespread corruption .
Walker could also have a negative past. An Associated Press review revealed that Walker had made numerous threats to Cindy Grossman’s life by telling her family he would kill Grossman. Walker denied the accusations, but a judge granted a protective order in 2005 and for a time barred Walker from owning guns.
In 2008, Walker wrote a book that detailed his struggles with mental illness. Walker wrote that he had been diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. He claimed that he created alternate personalities to protect himself from bullying as a stuttering and overweight child. Walker was raised in Wrightsville, 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Macon.
Walker also wrote of playing Russian roulette with a gun at his kitchen table in 1991. Walker described his story as a turnaround. He said that therapy and his Christian faith helped him find a path to integration. The book caused problems in one of Walker’s most important business relationships. In a 2019 legal deposition, a manager for food distributor Sysco said the company almost cut ties with Walker’s poultry company, Renaissance Man Food Services, when the book created “havoc.” Ultimately, Sysco stuck with Walker’s company until the controversy died down.
Walker made exaggerated claims about his business’s success in recent years. He repeatedly claimed his company employed hundreds of workers and grossed $70 million or more in annual sales. But Walker’s company only reported eight employees when it applied last year for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan. In a recent court case, Walker said his company averaged about $1.5 million a year in profit from 2008 to 2017.
State election officials opened an investigation into the residency of his wife after The Atlanta Journal–Constitution reported that Blanchard voted in Georgia despite being from Texas. Walker registered to vote last week at the Atlanta house Blanchard owns and registered his campaign Tuesday at the same address.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Herschel Walker as saying he was “coming off the sidelines.” The correct version is Walker saying he “can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.”
Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.