Back in February, I wrote about Donald Trump’s efforts to get University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker to run for the Senate in 2022 and spoke of Herschel (as he is universally known in the state) as the answer to many Georgia Republicans’ prayers. But now it seems that Walker’s reluctance to place himself in or out of the race to oppose newly minted Democratic senator Raphael Warnock is causing other potential candidates a lot of heartburn, as CNN reports:
Former President Donald Trump’s backing of football great Herschel Walker to run for the Georgia Senate seat has been enough to effectively freeze the GOP field in place – even though some Republicans privately worry the political neophyte might fizzle against Sen. Raphael Warnock in a high-stakes general election.
The speculation about Walker ’22 is no longer idle. The former Heisman Trophy winner told Fox News earlier this month he was “considering” the race, and according to CNN, he’s been making the rounds of former Trump staffers and senators like Lindsey Graham to assess his chances. Meanwhile, the two major Republicans beaten by Warnock in the last cycle (Senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost in the January runoff, and former congressman Doug Collins, who finished third in the initial non-partisan primary last November) are both said to be considering another run at the seat. South Georgia congressman Buddy Carter has also been exploring the race, and two less prominent candidates are already in the field. Talk of Marjorie Taylor Greene running for the Senate has subsided, though predicting what the wily gun-toting extremist from northwest Georgia will do next is perilous.
Walker isn’t just logjamming the GOP Senate primary as Warnock raises large sums of money; his indecision is also potentially freezing other races. Right now, Trump’s top target in Georgia remains incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp; the former president has publicly urged Collins to primary Kemp. Right now, Kemp’s only Republican challenger is the very Trumpy but questionably viable former Democrat Vernon Jones. If Walker runs for the Senate, Collins or some other candidate stronger than Jones might challenge the governor.
Meanwhile, pro-Walker forces need to get their Georgia football iconography straight. CNN quoted Georgia pol and Trump crony Randy Evans saying this about Herschel:
“He is a candidate that Trump Republicans, non-Trump Republicans, Independents, traditional Democrats, and even many partisan Democrats can agree with,” said Evans. “It is why so many Georgia voters of all persuasions have taken to quoting the famous Larry Munson who was often heard to shout, ‘Run, Herschel, run.’”
Evans is conflating two famous calls by Munson, the late Georgia Bulldogs radio announcer who is nearly as big a deal as Walker himself. There was “Run, Lindsey, Run!” addressed to Lindsey Scott during his 1980 touchdown reception to beat Florida, and there was “There Goes Herschel!” as a reaction to one of the running back’s early sprints to the end zone the same year. As renowned college football blogger Senator Blutarsky of Get the Picture (named after another famous Munson litany) said to Evans: “Dude, some quick advice from a Georgia fan: stick to politics.”
And maybe Herschel will stick to sports.