Herschel Walker: Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Since the Georgia GOP Primary features a former college football star, it seems appropriate to use a sports analogy. So here goes: 

Watching the Georgia senate primary unfold this year is a bit like watching the College Football Playoffs. Our team has already advanced. Now we’re sitting on the couch, IPA in hand, watching the next game to see who our team will play in the championship. In Georgia, this year, our team is Raphael Warnock. And we’re watching to find out who he’ll face in the general election. It might be the heavy favorite, football star Herschel Walker, or it could be the field of Gary Black, Josh Clark, Kevin King, Jonathan McColumn, or Latham Sadler.

So do we root for Walker? Or the field?

That is, against whom would the distinguished Reverend Raphael Warnock be most likely to win? And, if it’s the frontrunner (Walker), then what are our team’s advantages?

Let’s assume Walker advances. (He is the frontrunner for a reason: he’s got a Trump endorsement and is polling at almost 2/3s of Georgia Republicans.) One advantage that Warnock should expect to enjoy over his celebrity challenger is that Walker is a gaffe-prone domestic abuser

Direct, we know. But let’s be clear: Walker does not dispute that he beat his ex-wife, threatened to kill her, threatened to kill another of his ex-girlfriends, and threatened to kill police. It’s common knowledge.

It’s so common, in fact, that one of his primary opponents, Gary Black, not only released a 2 minute ad detailing it, he put an entire website up (realherschel.com) dedicated to further spreading the word. 

Plus, Walker, who’s thus far opted out of debating the in the Republican primary, (denying himself that much experience for when he’ll be expected to debate in the general), is well known for saying…well…let’s face it…stupid stuff. 

According to the Savannah Morning News, “Walker told a Rotary Club in Carrollton that NATO hasn’t been involved in supporting Ukraine or deterring Russia’s invasion, a false assertion showing ignorance of current events. More recently, Walker questioned the validity of evolution by saying that if man did indeed evolve from apes, then apes would no longer exist – as if evolution were a linear construct.”

Or here he is claiming that putting the late John Lewis’s name on the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill is wrong because it “doesn’t fit what John Lewis stood for.” (Lewis was a civil rights icon and co-sponsored the bill before he passed.)

But personal history and tendency to gaffe aside, probably the best advantage Warnock has is his ability to raise funds. 

Walker is a decent fundraiser, but he’s already far behind Warnock, who’s an excellent one. In the first quarter of this year, Warnock raised $13 million, more than double that of Walker. 

So in a potential Warnock v. Walker matchup, it’s reasonable to expect that Warnock could effectively control the airwaves, putting up two ads for every one Walker could muster. And that’s terrifying to GOP observers, like fellow Republican hopeful Gary Black, who probably said it best when he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution “Democrats are poised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to amplify Walker’s vulnerabilities next year, Black said, and it would be “foolish” for Republicans to postpone a thorough accounting of his background until after he’s nominated.”

So, okay, back to our football analogy. We’re sitting here with our IPA, eating our popcorn, enjoying the show. Because while a potential Walker v Warnock general election matchup would undoubtedly be tight (we’re talking about Georgia, after all), Walker has everything it would take for a Republican, even in a red state, to lose. 

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