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Herschel Walker entered the Georgia Senate race against Senator Raphael Warnock with a high that few college athletes enjoyed, especially in the Peach State. In 1980, he led the University of Georgia to a national championship, rushing for 1,616 yards, a record for a freshman.
In 1982, he won the Heisman Trophy before moving on to play for the New Jersey Generals, a short-lived United States Football League team owned by New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump.
Later, he had a long run in the NFL playing for the Dallas Cowboys before the team traded him to the Minnesota Vikings for five players and six future draft picks.
Similarly, Mr. Walker ended his run for Senate as a shadow of the UGA football legend most Georgians loved. His penchant for offhand comments became the subject of Saturday Night Live sketches and cautionary tales from his run that the political arena is vastly different from Sanford Stadium in Athens. The Associated Press estimated that Mr Warnock had beaten Mr Walker at around 10.30pm on Tuesday.
Mr. Walker even made it to the runoff to prove how uncomfortable of a candidate he is. Georgia law states that a candidate must win a majority of the vote and if a candidate does not win a majority in November, they go into a runoff.
But Gov. Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans whom Mr. Trump hated for not overturning the 2020 election results, won re-election comfortably in November. Mr. Kemp easily ousted liberal champion Stacey Abrams with 53.4 percent of the vote, giving Mr. Walker a boost — though not enough.
Mr. Walker, for his part, underperformed Mr. Kemp by 4.9 points and has now lost the runoff race. That alone makes it unlikely that he has much of a future in GOP politics.
“Sometimes when a party runs a candidate they know they’re going to lose, it takes them a day or two to set them up, or who lost but they looked at the numbers and saw how well they performed and how responsive the voters were, even Even though they lost they would talk to them about getting back in the game,” Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chairman, told The Independent. “Nothing will happen here.”
Mr Trump’s unpopularity among Georgia Republicans, who lost two of their Senate seats in the 2021 runoff race, meant he often had to rely on other surrogates such as National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana and Southern Senator Lindsey Graham. Carolina.
(Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved)
But on the Monday before the election, Mr. Kennedy, who had spent the weekend campaigning for Mr. Walker, could only defend Mr. Walker by saying that the polls were off.
“I don’t believe in any election right now. I don’t think the American people can be voted out. And that fact has been interesting to me for the last five or six years,” he told The Independent.
Mr Kennedy’s words came as polls showed Mr Warnock in a comfortable position. Even the conservative Trafalgar Group, which was derided by many for conducting a survey that painted a rosy portrait for the republicans, showed Mr Warnock in the lead.
Mr Walker can perhaps chalk up his recent attention to sportscasting or moving into conservative media but his election prospects appear to be behind him.
“You’ve ceded authority and the party’s reputation to a candidate who’s become an embarrassment and a laughing stock — but worse, someone who’s antithetical to the values you probably still believe in and support,” Mr. Steele said. “Then no,” Gee, Herschel, let’s meet at the Capitol Hill Club next week to talk about the next campaign.'”
Mr. Walker’s checkered past, including allegations that he abused not only his ex-wife but other partners, will likely always come out when he announces his Senate run. Months before he made the announcement, the Associated Press published a story about how his ex-wife Cindy Grossman accused him of being “physically abusive” during the divorce proceedings.
“This is as comprehensive a takedown as I’ve ever read,” Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted about the story. “My Lord.”
Stories abounded, most notably claiming that she hid the fact that she had multiple children alongside her son Christian, as well as stories claiming that she had graduated from college when she had not.
But perhaps the most damning story came when The Daily Beast reported in October that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion, even though he said on the campaign trail that he opposed abortion without exception. Mr Walker strongly denied the report, although it prompted another woman to accuse him of having an abortion, which Mr Walker also denied.
At the same time, Mr. Walker became known for rambling or absurd comments, such as when he spoke of the United States receiving China’s “bad air” when the United States sent China its “good air.” Similarly, he repeatedly told an anecdote about a bull that impregnated three cows and tried to climb over a fence where he saw other cows turning into bulls.
During the debate against Mr Warnock, Mr Walker pulled out a prop sheriff’s badge and argued it was the real thing. He promised to protect “the Martians” and once embarrassingly uttered “choice”.
All this allowed Mr. Warnock to mercilessly mock Mr. Walker. Many people expressed outrage when they saw Mr Warnock’s comments on one of Warnock’s adverts.
Mr Steele said Mr Walker’s reputation was now in tatters.
“All I can say is that he didn’t make himself good for a variety of reasons on a variety of levels.”
Brendan Buck, a former top adviser to former House Speaker John Boehner and Paul Ryan, told The Independent that Mr. Walker’s career was largely done.
“If [he] If he loses, Georgia Republicans will be happy to move on from this embarrassing experiment,” he said in a direct message. .”