ICYMI: Washington Post: “Backed by Trump, a Troubled Georgia Football Legend Eyes a Senate Seat”

May 11, 2022

“The unknowns associated with Herschel Walker, with his history and what his statements in the future may be, make him a foolish risk for Republicans”

A new Washington Post magazine feature highlights how Trump-tapped U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s troubled record – riddled with “bizarre” and “outrageous”  statements, “profound political incognizance,” and “distortion of facts” – has Republicans “alarmed” that Walker “flames out” in the general election.

Read the highlights here:

Backed by Trump, a Troubled Georgia Football Legend Eyes a Senate Seat

The Washington Post, Josh Rosengren, 5/4/22

  • On a Sunday afternoon in late February, I’m waiting for Herschel Walker. Outside the Springs Cinema & Taphouse, where he’s scheduled to take part in the Republican Jewish Coalition of Atlanta’s “job interview” of U.S. Senate hopefuls. It’s invitation only, closed to the news media — a point the two middle-aged women standing sentry in front of Theater 4 reiterated to me.
  • The night after the Republican Jewish Coalition event, Walker is in Dahlonega, an hour drive north of Atlanta and county seat of Lumpkin County — a very White and poor county — for a fundraiser. 
  • In Walker’s 35-minute speech he works the crowd’s emotions, telling stories about his mother, how he loves the flag and that communists imprison Christians — “Do you want a government like that?” He demonizes Warnock — “He’s a reverend but he believes in abortion!” — and President Biden, and he mocks the news media “that don’t want to tell the truth.” He also makes false statements, such as “Do you know 70 percent of the drugs coming into America go through Atlanta?”
  • The performance echoes a Trump rally, which isn’t surprising since it was Donald Trump who encouraged Walker to get into politics in the first place. 
  • Georgia has become a personal battleground for Trump, still bitter about losing the state in 2020. He has not only backed Walker to regain the Senate seat Republicans lost to Warnock in a runoff election in January 2021, but he has backed David Perdue — who lost his Senate seat to Democrat Jon Ossoff in the state’s other runoff election — to oust Gov. Brian Kemp.
  • Trump was back for another rally in March, this one in Commerce, to support seven candidates, including Perdue and Walker. Trump renewed his attack on Kemp but fretted, “If Kemp runs, I think Herschel Walker is gonna be … very seriously and negatively impacted. … A vote for Brian Kemp, RINO, in the primary is a vote for a Democrat senator who shouldn’t be in the Senate.” 
  • Regarding Walker’s chances of winning the general election, many Republicans worry that Warnock, with his superior oratory skills, experience as a senator and knowledge of the issues, will eviscerate Walker if he does win the Republican nomination and agrees to debate Warnock.
  • Says Wynter, the radio host, “The overwhelming fear is that he wins the primary and flames out in the general election.” 
  • Walker has not delivered any clear strategies for addressing the four top issues Georgia voters identified in the January Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll — elections, the economy, the pandemic and crime — other than to make broad statements, such as supporting the police and that inflation is too high. When he does get specific, it can get bizarre.
  • At a church in Sugar Hill, Ga., Walker said in March, “At one time, science said man came from apes. Did it not? Well, this is what’s interesting, though. If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”
  • In August 2020 Walker told Beck, “Do you know, right now, I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from covid as you walk through this dry mist? As you walk through the door, it will kill any covid on your body.”
  • In November and December 2020, Walker unleashed a flurry of #stopthesteal tweets supporting baseless conspiracy theories, saying complicit fraudsters should go to jail, seven states (including Georgia) should toss out the initial election results and vote again, and that Georgia should refuse to certify Biden’s victory.
  • Personally, Walker seemed indifferent to participating in democracy as a citizen for the majority of his life. He did not vote until the 2020 presidential election, when he was 58 years old. He initially attempted to register in the wrong county, according to Texas state records.
  • At other times, Walker has demonstrated a profound political incognizance. 
  • In a late January appearance on a Daily Caller podcast, Walker was baffled when asked, “Would you have voted for the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill?” which Congress had passed two months earlier amid widespread media scrutiny. “Until I can see all of the facts, you can’t answer the question,” he said. “And I think that’s what is totally unfair to assume someone like myself to say, ‘What are you going to vote for?’”
  • Such performances have alarmed some Republican leaders, who don’t want to squander the opportunity to take back the seat held by Warnock.
  • Walker “doesn’t have the breadth and depth of knowledge of the issues,” says Marci McCarthy, chair of the DeKalb County Republican Party, emphasizing the need for a qualified individual. “They need to know policy, our top issues in the state.”
  • In a December interview, Walker showed he clearly didn’t know policy or history when asked about the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 
  • The legislation would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which Lewis, a civil rights icon and congressman — not a senator — from Georgia, helped craft. “You know Senator Lewis was one of the greatest senators there’s ever been and for African Americans was absolutely incredible,” Walker said. “I think, then, to throw his name on a bill for voting rights, I think, is a shame. First of all, when you look at the bill, it doesn’t fit what John Lewis stood for, and I think that is sad for them to do this to him.”
  • Walker’s flagrant display of ignorance rankled many, including Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, intended to mobilize and empower Black voters. “There’s no crime in being ignorant,” Albright says, “but there is in not knowing you’re ignorant and going around boasting about what you don’t know. He’s a clear and present danger to our health and democracy.”
  • Details of Walker’s violent past and his outrageous statements already trouble the Republican cognoscenti. “The unknowns associated with Herschel Walker, with his history and what his statements in the future may be, make him a foolish risk for Republicans,” says John Watson, former Georgia GOP chair.

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