The 59-year-old celebrity candidate is the fifth Republican to enter the growing field to unseat Warnock, who narrowly defeated former senator Kelly Loeffler in a January runoff. If he wins the primary, Walker would go up against Warnock with national name recognition and the full-throated endorsement of Trump.
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the legendary Herschel Walker ran for the United States Senate in Georgia?” Trump said in a March statement. “He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, and in the NFL. He is also a GREAT person. Run Herschel, run!”
Walker did not immediately respond to a call from The Washington Post, and a representative for his campaign declined to comment.
The website affiliated with Walker’s campaign, which has not yet launched, was registered in early August, according to domain records.
Walker, a Wrightsville, Ga., native, left Georgia for a long professional career that ended in Texas. The 1982 Heisman Trophy winner met Trump in 1983 when he was signed with the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals, then owned by the business mogul, and later competed in Trump’s reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
After former Georgia U.S. senator David Perdue (R) said he would not run again, Walker would be the most recognized candidate in the Republican field, which includes state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, banking executive and Navy veteran Latham Saddler, and Trump campaign surrogate Kelvin King.
The expanding lineup of Republican contenders has already drawn criticism from the state’s Democrats.
“Walker’s entrance into Georgia’s chaotic GOP Senate primary is the nightmare scenario that Republicans have spent the entire cycle trying to avoid,” Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman Dan Gottlieb said in a statement Tuesday. “By the end of this long, divisive, and expensive intraparty fight, it’ll be clear that none of these candidates are focused on the issues that matter most to Georgians.”
Republicans are vying to take back the seat from Democrats — and control of the Senate — following the close race. But some have expressed concerns about Walker, who has never run for public office, seeking such a contested seat against Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and a high-profile figure in his own right.
Walker “certainly could bring a lot of things to the table,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) told the Associated Press. “But as others have mentioned, there’s also a lot of questions out there.”
Walker’s turbulent personal history could become a talking point in the race. After 12 years playing for the NFL, Walker shared his past struggles with mental health and dissociative identity disorder in his book “Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.” An AP report also documented alleged violence against his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, and the tumultuous divorce. The AP report found Walker had allegedly clashed with business partners and overstated claims about his chicken distribution business, Renaissance Man Food Services.
Walker has also echoed the Trump’s false claims that the election was fraudulently stolen by President Biden.
His wife, Julie Blanchard, is under investigation by Georgia’s secretary of state after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that records show she voted in Georgia despite living in Texas. Blanchard has said she considers herself a resident of Georgia.
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