Herschel Walker, the former pro football star and successful businessman, is running for the Senate in Georgia. He’s looking to face off against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock, a radical left preacher who won a special election in January 2021.
Walker outpolls his four main GOP rivals by 60 points, according to the RCP average. And he has the endorsement of Donald Trump.
But Walker’s road to the nomination is about to get a lot rougher. Two GOP super PACs are readying vicious attack ads against Walker that will highlight charges of domestic abuse made by Walker’s ex-wife and exaggerated claims about the success of his business.
Walker admitted to his long battle with mental illness in a book published in 2008. That should give him some cover as he faces the attacks by his fellow Republicans.
“Folks, he can’t win in November,” Walker’s rival and current state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said at a recent rally. “The baggage is too heavy. It’ll never happen.”
Black is allied with a super PAC that is going to make a seven-figure ad buy that will almost certainly weaken Walker for any general election run. It’s designed to pull Walker below the 50% threshold, which would force a run-off with the second-place finisher.
But even if the strategy works — and it may very well be effective given what some who have viewed the ads have to say about them — this kind of scorched earth politics could aid the ultimate opponent — Warnock.
In an effort to convince the National Republican Senatorial Committee of Walker’s vulnerabilities as a nominee, at a November meeting the Black campaign showed an early cut of a hard-hitting video highlighting Walker’s domestic violence history.
The video, which the Black campaign later published, was so brutal that an NRSC staff member let out a gasp at one point, according to a person present at the meeting. The committee did not allow the campaign to finish showing it, insisting it wasn’t their role to get involved in the primary.
Are Democrats going to go after a black man and accuse him of violence? Isn’t that sort of, almost, kinda racist, or something?
National Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have lined up behind Walker, despite any misgivings they might have about his record. In today’s political climate, if you make the right noises about the right issues and if you’re backed by the right people, it really doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your personal life.
The GOP race for the nomination was bound to tighten as people begin to focus more on the candidates. But the attack ads could weaken Walker for his general election run against Warnock — something Republicans don’t want to see in their effort to retake the Senate.