The Jolt: GOP rallies behind Herschel Walker amid new abortion allegation

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s become a predictable cycle in Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign: A scandalous allegation explodes in the headlines. Walker denies it or brushes it aside. National Republicans rally around him.

It happened again Wednesday, when California attorney Gloria Allred called an afternoon news conference with a woman who described a six-year affair with Walker in the 1990s and alleged that he pressured her to have an abortion. Specifically, she said he also drove her to a Dallas abortion clinic and paid for the procedure after she became pregnant.

The woman, who remained anonymous, said she came forward because she was infuriated that Walker denied a similar accusation from another ex-girlfriend.

Walker immediately called the woman’s allegations “a lie,” while his conservative allies downplayed them.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham stood alongside Walker at appearances in north Georgia throughout the day. Ahead of the news conference, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote: “The Democrats’ economic record is so disastrous that they’ll soon trot out Gloria Allred with anonymous accusations. Happens every cycle!”

Immediately afterward, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released internal polling it said shows Walker leading the race against Warnock.

Graham and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will be back on the trail with Walker again today. But we noticed one Republican who did not rush to Walker’s defense: Gov. Brian Kemp.

Asked on Fox News Wednesday night whether Walker will win his race, Kemp responded, “I’m working on getting the whole ticket across the finish line. The Democrats have been beating us on the ground here for several cycles. I watched that happen in 2020 and we’re not going to let that happen again in 2022.”


Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

ABRAMS PULLBACK. We told you earlier this week that gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has pulled back her TV ad spending from $2.6 million a week to about $1 million.

Some Democratic insiders are alarmed by the decision, noting that Gov. Brian Kemp continues to spend more than $2 million a week on his air blitz — and pro-Raphael Warnock forces are spending considerably more in his campaign for reelection to the U.S. Senate.

One operative said sent over figures to show “how odd” the Abrams move was: Warnock is spending $4.2 million this week, while an allied group spent $5 million. So Democrats in the Senate race are spending just under $10 million while Abrams is spending one-tenth that.


Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

Credit: Jason Getz/AJC

WORKIN’ MOMS. Parents with young children juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time. But a new mailer from the campaign of former GOP state Rep. Deborah Silcox suggests serving in the Georgia General Assembly shouldn’t be one of them.

Among Silcox’s attributes, the mailer points out, is her flexibility for “full-time service.”

“Only Deborah Silcox can give the job her full attention because her adult children are grown and her law practice doesn’t require her full-time attention,” the mailer says.

But among the lawmakers and leaders who would be disqualified under the children-not-grown-and-flown standard are both of Georgia’s U.S. senators, Gov. Brian Kemp at the beginning of his term, GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker, GOP lieutenant governor nominee Burt Jones, and many state and federal legislators.

Also: Silcox’s Democratic opponent, Kelly Coffman, who is a physician with three young children.

“I’ve held a lot of fire, but this hits me hard. In a sad way,” state Rep. Stacey Evans said Wednesday of the mailer. “No one would say this about a working dad opponent.”


MEADOWS TESTIMONY. A South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows must testify before the Fulton County special grand jury investigating attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election.

The AJC’s Tamar Hallerman was in Pickens, South Carolina, for the court proceeding where Circuit Court Judge Edward W. Miller denied Meadows’ attempt to quash a petition seeking his testimony. He ruled that Meadows is a “necessary and material” witness to the investigation and that appearing in Atlanta would not present an “undue hardship” for Meadows.

Meadows’ lawyer said he will appeal the decision.


COBB CHAOS. Democrats in Cobb County are working to overturn new county commission seat boundaries approved by the GOP-led General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.

The Democratic-majority commission has moved to invoke the county’s “home rule” powers to reject the new map, which will eliminate a sitting Democratic commissioner as of Jan. 1. But Republicans in the county say the Democrats don’t have the legal authority to overrule the Legislature.

More on a recent public meeting over the dispute from the Marietta Daily Journal:

Jeers and catcalls from both sides pierced the evening, as residents waved signs and alternately applauded and scoffed at their speakers of choice. Chairwoman Lisa Cupid found herself repeatedly reminding the audience to maintain decorum through the persistent interruptions.

(Jerica) Richardson, elected in 2020 and drawn into the neighboring District 3, threatens to be removed from office when the GOP-sponsored map takes effect Jan. 1….

If successful, the home rule bid would replace the GOP map with one advanced by Cobb Democratic legislators, which never received a hearing from the General Assembly.

- Marietta Daily Journal


Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

PENITENTIARY PROBLEMS. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff made good on his promise to visit the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta to see for himself how a facility he has described as a haven for misconduct and mismanagement is being run.

Ossoff toured the dining and health care facilities and also met with staff and inmates. Afterward, he said he saw progress but was far from declaring the problems solved.

“I think that there are signs of improvement,” he said. “There are signs of improved management committed to improving conditions within the facility and to public safety for the broader community. and that’s encouraging. But I’m a long way from being prepared to declare that the problem has been solved.”

Colette Peters, the new director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, joined Ossoff on the tour. Afterward, the bureau outlined the changes that have been implemented at USPA, such as new senior management, retraining of staff, renovations and security enhancements.

The previous director resigned in January after an Associated Press investigation found the bureau was a “hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption [that] has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.”


NEW POLLING. While the National Republican Senatorial Committee said its internal polling shows Herschel Walker leading his race against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Monmouth University is out with a new poll that shows the opposite.

The poll found that 49% of respondents were likely to support Warnock compared to 44% for Walker. The margin of error is 5 percentage points.

The telephone poll of 615 Georgia voters was conducted from Oct. 20 to 24.


TRAIL MIX. Be sure to check each afternoon through Election Day for our  “On the Georgia Trail” feature, where we’ll recap the news and notes from the campaign trail in Georgia.

Among the highlights from Wednesday:

  • With Herschel Walker facing another abortion allegation, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is attacking him more directly on the issue.
  • Stacey Abrams may be behind in the polls, but she was fiery on the stump at stops in Ft. Valley, Newnan and Union City.
  • U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and Republican challenger Chris West met at Columbus State University for a third and final debate.



  • Gov. Brian Kemp is campaigning with his family in the southeast Georgia cities of Darien, Jesup, Nahunta, and St. Simons.
  • Stacey Abrams’ campaign takes her “Let’s Get it Done” bus tour to Milledgeville, Grovetown and Augusta. State Sen. Jen Jordan, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, will join Abrams.
  • Herschel Walker’s Unite Georgia bus tour will make stops in Cumming, Monroe and Dublin. Texas’s U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz will be along for the ride the entire day, while South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham will join him for a morning stop.


Credit: Natrice Miller / AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller / AJC

JORDAN’S CLOSING AD. Democratic attorney general nominee Jen Jordan is finishing her campaign against incumbent Chris Carr the same way it began — with her own story of losing eight pregnancies.

Jordan first publicly described her history of miscarriage on the floor of the state Senate during the 2019 debate over House Bill 481, the state’s six-week abortion ban.

“No doubt the women of this state will reclaim their rights after they have reclaimed your seats,” she told GOP lawmakers then.

In her ad today, Jordan says, “As attorney general, I’ll be the last line of defense against those trying to outlaw abortion. I’ll fight for your rights, always.”

The spot is part of a multimillion ad buy with the Democratic Party of Georgia, and will air statewide.

In the meantime, Carr has been hitting the campaign trail with the state’s highest polling Republican, Gov. Brian Kemp.


Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

SHHHH. The famously discreet Augusta National Golf Club has been swept up in the high-profile feud between the PGA tour and its Saudi-funded upstart competitor, LIV Golf.

The Wall Street Journal reports the legendary golf club has been named in an antitrust lawsuit and that club officials have provided documents to the Department of Justice as a part of the investigation. More:

Augusta National has featured prominently in LIV's complaint against the Tour, as LIV accuses the Tour of leaning on the famed club to pressure players against joining LIV. The LIV suit also says that Augusta National has taken steps to align with the PGA Tour.

Augusta National representatives, the complaint says, threatened to disinvite players from the Masters if they joined LIV. The club's chairman Fred Ridley personally instructed a number of participants in last year's Masters to not sign on with LIV, it added. Ridley didn't respond to an email seeking comment.

- The Wall Street Journal

Several donors and Georgia politicos, including Sam Nunn, are members of the once all-male, all-white club. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became the club’s first female member a decade ago.


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