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Herschel Walker is the favorite for the Republican Senate nomination in Georgia despite a rocky rollout to his 2022 campaign that is unsettling some party activists.
The former professional football player and first-time candidate announced his highly anticipated Senate campaign on Aug. 25, and since then, he has proceeded to hold no public events, nor has Walker granted media access to local Georgia press, although he has spoken with Fox News, Fox radio and, over Labor Day weekend, Fox Sports, for a total of five interviews.
The Walker campaign said the candidate has been honoring speaking engagements and other commitments scheduled prior to launching his Senate bid and that political activity was in the works. But some Georgia Republicans, while pleased with Walker's digital messaging and outreach, are growing impatient.
“Traditionally, people announce, then barnstorm the state. He appears to have gone back to the comfort of his war room,” said a frustrated Georgia GOP insider who is backing Walker over state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and a few other primary candidates.
The Walker campaign is disputing the notion that the new politician has been out of touch since launching his Senate bid while saying Friday in a text message exchange with the Washington Examiner that a swing across Georgia, to meet with voters, was in the works.
“In the week since Herschel joined the race, he has been honored to talk with hundreds of Georgians. He is going to see thousands more this weekend,” Walker campaign spokesman Mallory Blount said, although she did not detail the candidate’s Labor Day weekend itinerary. “Over the coming weeks, Herschel will conduct a listening tour that will take him to every corner of the state.”
Walker, 59, who has lived the past several years in Texas, was recruited to challenge Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock by former President Donald Trump, a longtime personal friend.
On Thursday, Trump made his endorsement official, declaring in a gushing statement that Walker is “a friend, a Patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States Senator.” The former president was not dissuaded by Walker’s past struggles with mental illness, a topic the candidate has been publicly candid about. Trump also looked past old allegations of harassment brought against Walker by multiple women.
New accusations of stalking years ago, leveled against Walker by a woman described as a friend of his ex-wife, were reported Thursday by CNN.
Such a development would raise doubts about any candidate’s viability, causing voters and party insiders to reevaluate their support. But this latest charge against Walker fits with episodes from his past that are already known. Indeed, Walker has proactively revealed some instances of his troubling interactions with women from years ago as a part of an effort to discuss how he overcame his battle with mental illness.
Consequently, fresh reports of additional allegations from the past do not appear to have shaken confidence in Walker or raise questions about his viability in the primary.
Essentially, Republicans say, these issues were already built into the price of admission of a Walker candidacy, and they are not being interpreted as pushing the rollout of his Senate campaign off course. However, there is some latent anxiety among Republicans that Walker could run into trouble against Warnock in a general election, when Democrats are sure to use his past treatment of women against him.
“If you ask the consulting class, they think if he limits press availability, he will be fine,” a Republican operative active in Georgia politics said. “But it definitely makes the general election harder.”
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Original Author: David M. Drucker