Republican Senators Publicly Weigh In On Walker as GOP #GASEN Infighting Spills Out

July 30, 2021

Today, private GOP infighting over the messy Georgia Senate primary spilled out into the open as several Republican Senators publicly weighed in for and against Herschel Walker, Trump’s close friend and hand-picked candidate for the race. While Walker remains unmoved by the GOP criticism and “acting like he’s in the driver’s seat,” Republicans in Washington and Georgia alike continue to panic over their chaotic field. 

  • Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham called the recent AP report “bullsh-t” while “encouraging the former running back to go for the Senate seat.”
  • Herschel Walker’s own U.S. Senator John Cornyn said he’d “prefer to have somebody else.’
  • Senator John Kennedy questioned if Walker had the “belly” for a Senate run and if he was “prepared to take the spears and the arrows.” “My observation,” Kennedy noted, “he seems to be having a hard time making up his mind.”
  • Senator Kevin Cramer would reportedly “like to see his former colleague Perdue run for the Senate again.”
  • Mitch McConnell and his NRSC Chair aren’t seeing eye to eye on Trump’s handpicked candidate. According to another Republican Senator speaking anonymously, the Minority Leader thinks “there are a lot of people out there that fundamentally don’t want the president just choosing this person,” while NRSC Chair Rick Scott reiterated he will “support whoever wins the nomination” — including Walker.

Read the latest:

GOP to Herschel Walker: Consider staying on the bench

POLITICO, 7/30/21

  • Walker is a former NFL star and Donald Trump’s favorite to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in the Georgia Senate race next fall. But as years-old allegations about Walker’s marriage and business dealings weigh on his potential bid, Senate Republicans are raising concerns about his past in a state widely viewed as their best pickup opportunity next year.
  • “Some of it’s pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that’s true,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who is close to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I want to win that race. And to the extent that he’s handicapped by some of these things that would make that unlikely, I’d prefer to have somebody else.”
  • Walker’s potential candidacy offers another test case for the former president’s influence over the GOP, as Trump tries to play kingmaker in Senate races that will determine whether Republicans can win back the majority.
  • As Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) put it: “He’s got the wow factor, the celebrity factor … But some of these issues he’s going to have to figure out how to answer. As a candidate you have to be able to respond to hard questions. And your background becomes an issue, your experience becomes an issue,” Thune said. “Sometimes people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it’s not as easy as it looks.”
  • Walker did not respond to a request for comment for this story. But earlier this week, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he will make his decision on his own timeline. And he dismissed the recent news reports, saying “little articles like that ain’t going to scare me.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, is encouraging the former running back to go for the Senate seat, describing the reports as “bulls—.”
  • McConnell — who maintains close ties to several well-heeled outside groups that often influence Senate races — earlier this year said that he is focused on candidates who can win, regardless of the former president’s endorsement. 
  • Meanwhile, the Senate GOP campaign arm is declining to get involved in open primaries. When asked about Walker, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.) reiterated that he will “support whoever wins the nomination.”
  • So far, the Georgia Senate race has three GOP candidates: Gary Black, the state agriculture commissioner; Kelvin King, an Air Force veteran; and Latham Saddler, another military veteran who worked in the Trump White House. But others could jump in. Both Loeffler and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) are considering runs, though Carter has said he won’t do it if Walker declares his candidacy.

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