Walker Easily Wins Georgia GOP Primary to Take on Warnock

·4 min read
Megan Varner/Getty
Megan Varner/Getty

After a contentious but ultimately uncompetitive primary election, Georgia Republicans anointed sports legend and MAGA movement icon Herschel Walker as their standard-bearer in a race that could decide control of the U.S. Senate.

Walker, the decorated former University of Georgia football star, clinched the GOP Senate primary on Tuesday, and was on track to clear the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election. The rest of the GOP field lagged far behind Walker.

For Walker and the GOP, the focus now turns to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who is on the ballot to earn a full six-year term after defeating former GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler last year.

Herschel Walker’s Failed Company Hawked Health Products He Knew Were Bogus

Walker’s victory was a vindication for former President Donald Trump in an otherwise bad night for him. Former Sen. David Perdue flamed out in spectacular fashion in his bid to take out Gov. Brian Kemp, a leading Trump enemy.

But Trump, whose family has been close with Walker since he played football for a Trump-owned team in the 1980s, encouraged him to run, and his early backing helped to stall the competition.

After winning over GOP leaders who harbored doubts, like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Walker led his opponents by a wide margin for much of the campaign and never looked back. To the frustration of his rivals, Walker skipped all debates and stuck largely to friendly interviews on cable TV.

The general election, however, will be a much different story, and Walker is set to face a level of scrutiny—particularly concerning allegations of violence and domestic abuse—that he largely escaped in the primary.

President Joe Biden’s underwater approval rating in Georgia and public frustration with the economy means that the narrowly-divided Peach State is still a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans. If the GOP nets just one more seat in November’s elections, they will control the U.S. Senate next year, and the party will likely spare no expense to boost Walker.

Herschel Walker’s GOP Rivals Are Running Out of Time to Tackle Him

Despite those headwinds, Warnock will be a formidable opponent. The Atlanta pastor has spent his first year in office tending to his record in Georgia and stockpiling campaign cash. And he’s been prolific on that score: Warnock is now sitting on a $22 million warchest.

Beyond that, keeping Warnock in the Senate is a top priority for national Democrats, who will invest heavily in supporting him and attacking Walker.

The scandals and bad press that Walker dodged during the primary campaign could matter far more to the state’s broader electorate, and are likely to become a defining feature of Democrats’ general election campaign against him.

Before Walker jumped into the race last year, the Associated Press published an investigation detailing his past violent behavior, including an instance in which his ex-wife alleged he once pointed a gun at her head and threatened to “blow” her “f’ing brains out.” She filed for divorce citing physical abuse and later got a protective order against him.

Another woman later came forward with allegations of disturbing behavior on Walker’s point, including stalking; a third woman also alleged that Walker threatened to kill her and then himself in 2012.

Walker has since admitted he has struggled with serious mental illness; in an interview last year, he claimed that he has “healed” and insisted “I'm always accountable to whatever I've ever done.”

Herschel Walker Claims to Own Companies That Don’t Exist

A key part of Walker’s appeal as a candidate, his business record, has not stood up to scrutiny from the press. The AP reported, for instance, that Walker claimed to run a poultry business that employed hundreds and pulled in $80 million a year—but just eight people worked at the company when it applied for COVID-19 emergency funds in 2020.

In April, The Daily Beast reported that some of the companies that Walker proudly claims to own actually do not exist. He also made inflated or made-up Trump-style boasts, like owning the largest furniture upholstery company in the country, that are untrue.

Though none of Walker’s GOP rivals managed to gain traction, Black, the second-place finisher, ran an aggressive campaign, arguing that this record would be toxic for Walker and cost the GOP the race against Warnock.

Black even released an ad highlighting Walker’s domestic abuse allegations, which was so brutal that Black has said it elicited gasps when he first showed it to people.

As Democrats gear up for their own hardball tactics, handicappers consider the Warnock-Walker campaign to be a true toss-up race, with recent polling showing both of them winning potential matchups.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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