“He has a real concern for the country, he loves Georgia. He certainly has a long-standing relationship with President Trump, ”said Randy Evans, former Trump administration ambassador and longtime Republican agent for Georgia.
The combination, he said, is a “great package”.
A single tweet from Walker last week sparked a new round of talk about Republicans’ chances of defeating Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in his bid for a full term in the Senate.
“Georgia on my mind,” Walker said in a tweet Thursday, which featured a short video of him in a sweaty t-shirt, cranking the engine of his car. Amid questions about his residency, the Georgia license plate hasn’t gone unnoticed – the former Heisman Trophy winner has to move from Texas to Georgia to run.
“I’m getting ready and we can run with the big dogs,” he said in the video, which said nothing about a Senate bid.
Walker’s historic career as a professional athlete is only part of his appeal to many Georgia Republicans. He also enjoys the enthusiastic support of former President Donald Trump, with whom he has a relationship that stretches back four decades.
Walker’s three seasons as a marquee player with a Trump-owned USFL team in the 1980s launched a long-standing friendship that would later see Walker become a contestant on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice TV show. In a speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, the former football star defended the former president against charges of racism; he remains a close friend of the Trump family.
Walker was seated next to the former president during his birthday celebration last week, according to an Instagram video of the former president’s son Donald Trump Jr.
In a statement, Trump Jr. hailed Walker as the best possible candidate in the Senate race.
“Herschel Walker is not only a longtime family friend, but he’s also a strong America First Conservative and he would immediately enter the Senate race as a front-runner if he decided to pull the trigger. “said Trump Jr ..
An associate of the former president, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that “the team is very happy that Herschel is about to make a decision. He’s a 45-year-old star, a great friend and a perfect candidate.
Yet even with Trump’s approval, some Georgia Republicans are hesitant. Walker’s lengthy deliberations have frustrated some who fear the party is wasting time rebuilding itself following two devastating Senate second-round defeats in January. Warnock’s re-election campaign has already raised more than $ 5 million through March, a sum that has likely increased significantly over the past three months – its new total will be made public in mid-July.
“We’re really late in the process,” said a GOP official in the state. “Our candidate, whoever that person is, should be in the running now and should be fundraising.”
Walker could not be reached for comment.
If Walker declares his candidacy, he will have to navigate a core area of the GOP that could be competitive. Gary Black, the state’s agriculture commissioner, announced a race earlier this month and two military veterans, Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, are also in the race. And former Sen. Kelly Loeffler continues to consider a rematch against Warnock.
Some Republicans worry that Walker’s popularity as a professional athlete may not necessarily be transferable, especially in such a divided state.
“I love Herschel Walker, I’m a double Dawg,” said Republican strategist Martha Zoller, referring to her two college degrees from the University of Georgia. “I think he’s an amazing person. But I think there is a big difference between being a football star 40 years ago and being a candidate for [the] United States Senate.
“It will be a big test of Trump’s support,” Zoller added.