Just days before Georgia’s racist and restrictive election laws go into effect, America was provided with the latest proof that Donald Trump owns the Republican Party.
Instead of endorsing any number of Republicans who are already part of Georgia’s political establishment, the former president has been pushing for his one-time employee and Hall of Fame football great Herschel Walker to run for U.S. Senate in Georgia. On Tuesday, it was reported that Trump said that mission has been accomplished by declaring that Walker has decided to launch a Senate campaign to challenge the recently elected Sen. Raphael Warnock.
One caveat, though: Walker, 59, had yet to confirm that report as of late afternoon on Tuesday.
Another issue is Walker’s residency. While the Peach State native made a name for himself starring as a member of the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team back in the 1980s, he’s made no secret that he lives in Texas. However, according to a state-run website devoted to the qualifications of people running for U.S. Senator, a candidate must only be “an inhabitant of the state for which chosen when elected.”
Trump has been calling for Walker to run since at least March, two months after Warnock won a Senate runoff election for the same position the former football great is reportedly targeting.
Walker has been dropping hints that he would indeed run. That included a cryptic social media video he posted nearly two weeks ago showing himself behind the driver seat of a sports car and captioned by four words: “Georgia on my mind.”
In the video, Walker revs the motor, gets out, smiles at the camera and says, “he’s ready,” referring to the car. “I’m getting ready.”
Smiling even more broadly, Walker adds, “And we can … run with the big dogs.”
That last part was accentuated by Walker zooming his camera on the car’s Georgia license plate, suggesting he may have already established his residency.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported that Walker skipped participating in Georgia’s GOP convention earlier this month, which may have provided some Republicans eyeing Warnock’s seat some hope that he wasn’t planning to run. The logic is that the only candidate that could emerge victorious in the race would be someone endorsed by Trump, who has repeatedly made it clear that Walker is his only choice.
In case it’s unclear what kind of a politician a Black Republican who calls Trump a close friend would be, the term “Uncle Tom” was a top trending topic on Twitter back when Walker delivered an address at the 2020 Republican National Convention endorsing a failed presidential campaign for re-election.
During that speech, Walker, who was one of Trump’s employees when he played in the USFL — one of Trump’s most glaring failed business ventures — said his “soul” was hurt when he learned people called Trump racist.
“I take it as a personal insult that people think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” Walker said last August.
It is in that context that Trump hand-picked Walker to run for U.S. Senate in Georgia.
Of course, even with Trump’s endorsement, electoral success is not guaranteed. That much was clear with Warnock’s win over former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, one of Trump’s favorites whose losing campaign featured a smiling selfie with a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Loeffler was among Georgia Republicans plotting a Senate run, but only if Walker didn’t run first.
But Republican operatives in the state also agree with Walker’s run won’t ensure his campaign scores a touchdown.
“Herschel is the ultimate wild card — high upside, but plenty of risk,” Chip Lake, a Republican strategist in Georgia and around the South, told the Associated Press in an article published over the weekend.
Jack Kingston, a former south Georgia congressman and 2014 Senate candidate, was a bit more blunt in his assessment.
“You’ve got to get out there and meet people, and it takes time to do that,” Kingston said about campaigning. “Republican primary voters get mad easily if you don’t come to their events, even if you’re Herschel Walker.”
Walker’s reported campaign comes at a precarious time in Georgia politics. Not only has the state recently enacted election laws that make it harder to legally cast ballots — a right protected under the constitution — but the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed a lawsuit against the state alleging it knowing passed a racist election law that “particularly” affects Black voters.
The lawsuit came days after the U.S. Senate failed to advance legislation that would have helped Black voters, in particular.
Both the Georgia law — which goes into effect on Thursday — and Senate Republicans‘ use of a filibuster to block the For The People Act from advancing were equally inspired by Trump’s “big lie” that he was the victim of election fraud in the 2020 election.
In that respect, the timing of the report that Walker will run for Senate is surely no coincidence.
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