The GOP needs Trump-loving soccer champ Herschel Walker as Teflon

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker danced through his elementary school in Georgia on Tuesday. He meets the incumbent Senator from the Democrats Raphael Warnock, a black religious leader in the state, in a critical race in November that could tip the Senate balance of power in favor of the GOP. donald trump, who picked Walker for the race has spent the past year promoting his campaign and cementing Republican support for the 60-year-old former soccer icon. The duo’s friendship dates back to the 1980s when Walker played for the Trump-owned New Jersey Generals of the old United States Football League. But Walker, a former Heisman-winning running back at the University of Georgia with no previous political experience, faced a steady stream of scandals throughout his candidacy, the most serious of which stemmed from allegations of domestic violence and violent threats against previous romantic partners. Still, Republicans feel like they’ve found the golden ticket in Walker: a black, Trump-loving Southeastern Conference soccer star. According to Republican strategists, the GOP is banking on this biography leading the party to a Senate majority.

“It would be like if Michael Jordan decided to run in North Carolina,” he explains Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. “Everyone knows who Herschel is, and virtually everyone agrees, which gives him a huge advantage of not having to introduce himself and not have to spend a lot of money on ads.”

And given that 32.6% of Georgia’s population is black — and that Walker is likely to run against Warnock, a prominent black leader who boosted turnout in Georgia’s 2021 runoff — Republicans are hoping Walker expand the Republican electorate. In Walker, the GOP believes it has found a “credible, serious candidate who is African American … which will help address this.” [Warnock]an African-American pastor,” a Republican adviser Matt Mackowiak told vanity fair.

The key to Walker’s success in the Republican Party is that he has held both Trump and Mitch McConnell in his corner. However, McConnell may not have had much of a choice on the matter; Walker and his high sympathy numbers make him the betting favorite for a Georgia-led Republican takeover of the Senate. According to the senator Lindsey Graham, One of Walker’s staunchest supporters, the Senate Minority Leader, has described the Trump-recruited candidate as “the real deal,” according to CNN. And different JD Vance and Blake Masters, two Republican Senate candidates running as “America First” paleoconservatives, Walker has not portrayed himself as an insurgent populist threat to the order of the GOP establishment. Most of his political positions are typical of the post-Trump conservative and lack the uncompromising ideological substance that poses a threat to McConnell’s agenda. His campaign website includes a number of conservative positions, including a promise to “secure the US-Mexico border,” support for the police and military, and “stand up for conservative family values.” The front page of his campaign page reads, “Walker is a kid from a small town in Georgia who’s lived the American dream, and now he’s running for the United States Senate to help keep that dream alive for you too.”

But he’s not without skeletons. According to a CNN investigation, Walker repeatedly made up his accomplishments, falsely describing himself as a high school valedictorian and a University of Georgia graduate. Even more notable is a series of abuse allegations against him. in 2008, Cindy Grossman, Walker’s ex-wife told CNN he once put a razor to her throat and pointed a gun at her head on more than one occasion. Walker has neither confirmed nor denied those allegations, although he told CNN at the time he didn’t remember the incidents and claimed they may have been caused by mental blackouts related to his dissociative identity disorder. In another incident, a woman told police that Walker threatened to “blow off her head” and then “blow off his head,” according to a 2012 police report. (No charges were brought against Walker, and the Walker campaign “strongly” denied the “false claims” after they surfaced in April last year.) In 2002, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader accused Walker of stalking her, according to a police report, a claim Walker’s campaign has said he denies. (No charges were filed.)

His campaign has tried to shrug off questions about these claims, stating that Walker has been open about his dissociation issues for years and that he has fully recovered from the disorder. In a December statement to Axios, Walker vaguely insisted he was “accountable” for his past actions.

Some Republicans are not convinced. “He’ll have a better chance of winning the general [election] when he addresses the issues that are out there from his past,” Georgia’s Republican lieutenant governor said. geoff duncan, in a recent night line Interview. “If he doesn’t do that, I think it’s going to be a tough day in Georgia when we get to the November election, and unfortunately we’re going to send another Democrat to represent us as a U.S. Senator.” Duncan didn’t endorse a candidate in the crowded primary of the race.

Like Trump, he also markets himself as a virtuoso in the business world and says that after retiring from football in 1997 he built a business empire and has a net worth of more than $29 million through the several companies affiliated with H. Walker Enterprises, LLC. built up dollars . His most successful company appears to be Renaissance Man Food Services, a poultry products company Walker has dubbed “mini-Tyson Foods,” which controls numerous chicken processing plants. His other claims included calling it the largest minority-owned food company in the United States TheAtlanta Journal Articles of Association, He admitted that the company does not own any chicken processing plants, but has only partnered with plants to sell branded products bearing his name. “I don’t want to speak of ‘own’ in the technical sense,” Walker said in a statement to the court at the time. What role Walker plays in the company that bears his name is still unclear.

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