Walker is expected to be the early frontrunner in the primary if he gets the backing of Trump, the most influential Republican in the party.
But some GOP strategists and lawmakers from Georgia to Washington, DC are deeply worried about Walker’s potential campaign, fearing that Walker could cost the GOP a winnable seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Three Republican candidates — Georgia agriculture commissioner Gary Black, construction firm owner Kelvin King and former Trump national security official Latham Saddler — have already announced their campaigns.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has even suggested to allies that former Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler should take another look at running again, after their narrow losses in January flipped the Senate to Democratic control. McConnell met this summer with Loeffler and Perdue.
Some Republicans were alarmed by a recent Associated Press report detailing Walker’s past, including that he threatened violence against his ex-wife. Walker has been open about his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder. Until recently, Walker also lived in Texas and did not have a political operation in Georgia.
The race against Warnock could decide the Senate. Democrats in the upper chamber have the slimmest of majorities — 50-50 — held only by Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. Warnock beat Loeffler in 2020 by two points.
“Walker’s entrance into Georgia’s chaotic GOP Senate primary is the nightmare scenario that Republicans have spent the entire cycle trying to avoid,” said Georgia Democratic party spokesman Dan Gottlieb. “By the end of this long, divisive, and expensive intra-party fight, it’ll be clear that none of these candidates are focused on the issues that matter most to Georgians.”
But Walker has a long relationship with the former President going back to 1984, when Trump — the then-owner of the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals — gave the former Heisman trophy-winning running back a contract extension.
They stayed in touch; Donald Trump Jr. recounts in his book “Triggered” that he went to Disney World when he was 6 with Walker’s family, and Walker would visit the Trumps at their house in Greenwich, Connecticut. Walker later appeared on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” with Trump and encouraged his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids.
In December, Walker tweeted a video supporting Trump’s effort to overturn his loss and subvert the will of the electorate. Trump responded, “Herschel is speaking the truth!”