The Jolt: Herschel Walker: ‘I don’t support either’ Brian Kemp or David Perdue

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Herschel Walker is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

Credit: wire

Credit: wire

Herschel Walker is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

Plenty of Georgia Republicans are happy to stay out of the messy primary between Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. But Herschel Walker is the first high-profile candidate to say he’s “mad” at both rivals – and that he won’t back either one of them.

Walker’s comments came at a student gathering Monday at the University of North Georgia when he was asked by a participant which candidate he backed in the race for governor. The GOP Senate frontrunner’s response in a recording obtained by the AJC was blunt.

I don't support either one of them. I'm mad at both of them. I speak the truth and let me tell you why. I've known Gov. Kemp since I was 16 years old. I've known Sen. Perdue since I was 19. This is what I want to say to everyone here: I want to bring this party together. We've got to bring this party together.

What has happened now is some people get sour grapes and they don't get out and vote. And I want to say whoever loses that race – whether it's Gov. Kemp or Sen. Perdue – he needs to tell his people to go out and vote for the other. It's time for you to stop having sour grapes and think about this party.

- Herschel Walker, U.S. Senate candidate, at the University of North Georgia

When reached for comment late Tuesday, a Walker campaign aide said the Republican is “100% focused on uniting the party post-primary.”

Walker’s comments, the battle to challenge U.S. Raphael Warnock, and the latest developments in the Kemp-Perdue showdown for the GOP nomination for governor are the top talkers in today’s Politically Georgia podcast.

Listen online and be sure to subscribe to the pod on your favorite podcast platform to make sure you don’t miss an episode.


UNDER THE GOLD DOME, Wednesday, Feb. 23:

  • 8:00 a.m.: Committee hearings begin and are stacked throughout the day*;
  • The House and Senate stand adjourned until Thursday for the full committee work day.


Capitol update:

  • The House passed a bipartisan bill from GOP state Rep. Sharon Cooper to make HIV-positive Georgians eligible for Medicaid coverage, conditional on their income and a federal waiver;
  • The House also passed HB 1092, a second bill from Cooper to let pregnant women convicted of a crime stay out of prison until six weeks after they’ve given birth, at a judge’s discretion;
  • In Cobb cityhood news:The City of Vinings” passed the Senate and heads back to the House for consideration, while the “City of Lost Mountain” got a green light from the House and is on the way to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature and a vote by referendum in 2022.


The AJC’s Ty Tagami has the details on the debate over SB 449, the “Parents Bill of Rights” that passed the Senate 33-21 Tuesday.

Democrats argued that school systems already have a process for parents’ input on curriculum and that the bill will only create more work for already swamped school teachers.

Republicans countered that it’s parents’ fundamental right to control what their children are exposed to in school and when.

“If you want to vote against this bill of rights, go ahead,” state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, said. “I will be on the right side of history.”


POSTED: Tia Mitchell reports from D.C. on the Georgia congressional delegation’s reaction to the news that Russia had followed through on its long-anticipated invasion of Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans alike expressed an interest in enacting stronger sanctions on Russia, while Republicans mostly blamed President Joe Biden for not acting sooner.

None of Georgia’s delegation members took issue with Biden’s insistence that no U.S. troops be sent to fight Russia on the ground.


We told you Tuesday that Herschel Walker blasted the Biden administration’s “weak” response to the unfolding Russian invasion of the Ukraine during another stop in Dahlonega.

We checked in with the other top Senate GOP candidates later in the day.

Former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler, whose missions included Iraq and Afghanistan, said the Biden administration has “failed its diplomatic mission”:

Moving forward, no one wants American troops at war, so Vladimir Putin must feel the heat. We do that with strenuous sanctions on all contractors involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and establishing a multinational brigade based in Bulgaria that patrols the Black Sea. There must be consequences for behavior that breaks international law.

This crisis once again confirms the wisdom of the America First agenda to push our NATO allies to increase their defense spending and play a bigger role in keeping the peace in their own backyard.

- Latham Saddler, U.S. Senate candidate

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black used the a-word – appeasement – to describe President Joe Biden’s approach:

Biden's weakness, his debacle in Afghanistan and his year-long appeasement of Putin – granting him the Nordstream pipeline and new START treaty that Trump denied him – invited this aggression. Our allies' faith in us is low and our enemies are emboldened by our president's incompetence.

- Gary Black, U.S. Senate candidate

And Air Force Academy grad and veteran Kelvin King, a key Trump surrogate in 2020, said “Americans are paying the price for President Biden’s incompetence yet again”:

This Administration has portrayed nothing but weakness and has cut our own legs from underneath us by posturing without action, embarrassing us on the world stage, and shutting down our energy independence. It is too late to threaten stronger sanctions - we must hit Russia with the most aggressive sanctions NOW, be prepared to tap into our petroleum reserves, and open up the keystone pipeline. The time for words is gone. The only thing Putin understands is action and strength - neither of which President Biden has shown to us, our allies, or Russia.

- Kelvin King, U.S. Senate candidate


It may be a short primary debate season, but Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday he’s accepted four invitations ahead of the May 24 GOP primary. They include showdowns hosted by WSB-TV, the Atlanta Press Club, Nexstar Media Group and Gray Television.

Meanwhile, it’s not yet clear how many GOP Senate debates will be held – or whether frontrunner Herschel Walker will appear in any of them.


Gov. Brian Kemp announced $422 million for water and sewer upgrades across Georgia Tuesday.

Kemp said in a press conference that the funding will help local systems ensure safe drinking water for their residents.

One person welcoming the news was Macon’s Mayor Pro Tem, Seth Clark.

“Having grown up in Monroe County, I am heartened to see a portion of these funds go toward water line construction in Juliette,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s one of the most pressing infrastructure and public health issues in Georgia.”


POSTED: With local opposition swirling against the planned $5 billion Rivian electric vehicle plant, the state is taking the reins of Gov. Brian Kemp’s pet project, the AJC’s Scott Trubey and Andy Peters report.

Local elected officials had been scheduled to vote next month on whether to rezone the 2,000 acres of rural property east of Atlanta for industrial use. They faced pressure from hundreds or thousands of area residents unhappy with the massive proposed factory.

But now local officials won’t vote, after the state assumed control and withdrew rezoning applications. The state can more easily bypass local zoning laws.


The leaf-blower lobby has the ear of the General Assembly.

Our colleague Mark Niesse reports that a bill is being considered to prevent local restrictions or bans that treat gas-powered leaf blowers differently than electric ones.

While both types are liable to make the same noise outside your window on Saturday mornings, gas-powered blowers are the ones most used by landscapers, while electric ones are more often owned by homeowners.

Regulations on gas blowers have been considered in the city of Decatur and in Athens-Clarke County, Niesse tells us.

Mary Kay Woodworth, the executive director of the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council, told a House committee Tuesday that local ordinances requiring electric blowers would be prohibitively expensive for landscapers, which are typically self-operated small businesses and would have to purchase more expensive, less efficient equipment to work in neighborhoods that require them.

The bill would not affect local bans on 6:00 a.m. wakeup calls.


A special Jolt shoutout to Raymond Goslow, a senior at Kennesaw State University and the son-in-law of the AJC’s Tracey Alcala.

Goslow finished in second place last night in the Jeopardy! College Championships and, along with this cool Jolt mention, won $100,000. Congratulations Raymond!


As always, Jolt readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to, and

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