Herschel Walker continues to be to Senate candidates what Minnesota trading for Herschel Walker was to NFL team-building:
When Donald Trump and other Republicans talked Herschel Walker into moving back to his native Georgia from Texas to run for the U.S. Senate in 2022, there were two story lines that were in immediate tension. Walker was a Georgia native who achieved sports immortality as a running back for the University of Georgia four decades ago. But after signing his first professional football contract with Trump’s New Jersey Generals, Walker’s career took him away from his roots and eventually landed him in Texas, where he launched a career in business and motivational speaking. And even as Republicans sought to lure Walker into a Senate race, they recognized it was a bit of a problem that he no longer lived in Georgia and had in fact accepted tax breaks as someone with a “primary residence” elsewhere.
Walker’s Texas residency has always been more of a political than a legal problem for him. He did not claim a homestead exemption for a Georgia property he owned but did not live in, and the constitutional residency requirement only arises after someone has already been elected. But his Texas connection became something of a symbol of the suspicion among Republican primary opponents and Democrats alike that Walker was simply a political stooge whose celebrity made him a convenient front man for Trump and other politicians seeking a Black nominee to run against Black Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock. The former Heisman Trophy winner’s evasive campaign strategy and habit of bizarre statements reinforced this impression, even as more serious questions about his history of violence (complicated by a confessed mental-health condition), publicly unacknowledged children, and alleged financing of two ex-girlfriends’ abortions captured headlines.
Putting aside arcane real-estate and election-law issues — which aren’t going to be resolved by the December 6 runoff date — the renewed claims are part and parcel of an effort by Team Warnock and (more quietly) some Georgia Republican disparagers of the GOP nominee to depict him as a habitually duplicitous man whose heroic image has been left in tatters by this campaign. Walker’s character has become a subject his own campaign is giving a wide berth, relying instead on standard conservative attack ads on Warnock and Democrats generally, along with appeals to party solidarity. This once beloved figure whose legendary status led to his recruitment as a politician is now running as a generic Republican eager to talk about anything other than himself.
Don’t worry, he can solve this problem by seeing a Georgia Tech Blue Jackets or Atlanta Cardinals game and then grabbing a bite at Bluto’s or Bojingles.