The Jolt: Herschel Walker readying possible Senate bid: “If I run, I’ll be all-in”

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Former professional football player Herschel Walker reacts to President Donald Trump as he speaks during a Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

09/25/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Former professional football player Herschel Walker reacts to President Donald Trump as he speaks during a Blacks for Trump campaign rally at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Friday, September 25, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer /

The long-running Herschel Walker U.S. Senate saga seems clearer now, but it’s not official yet.

Former President Donald Trump said publicly his longtime friend will challenge Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Since Trump has a lengthy history of making announcements about other people that turn out to be not 100% true, we looked for more from Walker, who released a statement to the AJC last night saying he expects to announce a decision soon.

“Georgia is my home — I love Georgia, and I love this country,” Walker said in the statement. “And I believe we need fighters to step forward and help save both. Know this much: If I run, I’ll be all-in, and we will do whatever it takes to win for Georgia.”

His most prominent Republican rival isn’t standing still. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who announced his bid earlier this year, on Wednesday rolled out a lengthy list of grassroots supporters that include more than 220 backers in each of Georgia’s 159 counties.

“We are hungry to take back the U.S. Senate and put a stop to the regressive agenda Washington is forcing down the throats of Americans,” Black said.

Among the backers: Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed; Public Service Commissioner Tricia Pridemore; Douglas County Sheriff Tommy Waldrop; Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis; and about a dozen state legislators and former state legislators.

When he entered the race, we asked Black how he’d handle the race if Walker did indeed jump in with Trump’s backing.

“I’m in this race to win the primary and the general election. I’m in it for the long haul.”


If you can’t tell from the increasingly desperate email appeals, (We have BAD NEWS, We NEED you Jolt readers!) today marks the latest fundraising deadline for state and federal candidates. And as the results trickle out the next few days, they’ll serve as an important early gauge for 2022.

Here are our most burning questions:

  • How much will Gov. Brian Kemp raise? The first-term Republican reported roughly $6.3 million in his account in February, before he kicked off his re-election campaign in earnest. Will he top $10 million in this filing?
  • Kemp’s main Republican challenger, Vernon Jones, has aggressively hit social media to raise small-dollar donations. And he’s holding a pricey fundraiser with former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani tonight, even after Giuliani had his law license suspended for his 2020 conduct in Georgia. How deep will the pockets be?
  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock jumped to a fast fundraising start in April with roughly $5.6 million in the bank. With a tough re-election battle looming, can he run up the fundraising tally?
  • Two military veterans -- Kelvin King and Latham Saddler -- have revved up their fundraising efforts to show they can be credible Senate GOP candidates. We’ll soon find out if donors are responding.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black became the most prominent Republican to join the Senate race earlier this month when he announced his bid. Will he turn heads with his first fundraising report?
  • Georgia’s down-ticket races are bound to attract outsized attention this cycle. Will any have a break-out fundraising report?


On that note, we’re told state Sen. Butch Miller held his kickoff event for his lieutenant governor bid last night in Gainesville. The open-air event included live music, tons of food and about 700 people.

Importantly, the hosts included two longtime allies and GOP heavyweights: Former Gov. Nathan Deal and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who were both on hand.

Miller’s campaign aides tell us that he’s raised $1.7 million overall since he joined the race just over a month ago.

That gives the Gainesville Republican an early edge over GOP state Sen. Burt Jones, who is expected to enter the race next month and will now have some keeping up to do with Miller.

Take special note of the endorsement by Perdue, whose support for Miller could make it harder for former President Donald Trump to pick sides in the race.


Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has one spicy op-ed in the Savannah Morning News today, ripping Democrats for what he calls a “false narrative” about the state’s new election bill.

A sample:

“Washington Democrats, Stacey Abrams and now the Biden administration's Justice Department have spent months spreading lies about the new election laws in Georgia and other Republican-led states.

Georgia's new election law includes positive election reforms that make sure we have objective measures for absentee ballots and for identification of voters, and it will restore confidence in our elections."

- Savannah Morning News

But wait, Raff doesn’t let his fellow Republicans off the hook either.

“As a Republican secretary of state, I'm disappointed that leaders in my party failed to prioritize election reforms – and to repeal bad Democrat-passed laws – when they had unified control of Washington just a few short years ago.

While they parade around today as warriors for election integrity, they did nothing when they had the chance."

- Savannah Morning News

As we’ve learned to expect from the SoS, his argument is loaded with data and details, so it’s worth reading in its entirety.


U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff swung by Atlanta’s Sheltering Arms Educare Center preschool to tout the child tax credit that became a central piece of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package -- and make a pitch for the incentive to be permanent.

The newly elected Democrat called it a “huge benefit to families in Georgia” and reminded reporters it wouldn’t have passed if he and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock hadn’t swept the runoffs in January.

“There are so many families in our state who still have credit card bills piling up and can’t afford the light bill, the gas bill, the car payment, the mortgage, child care services that we’re under-investing in,” he said. “That’s why we’ve worked so hard to deliver this tax cut for working class and middle-class families.”

The incentives boost the existing child tax credit to $3,600 per child for most families with children under 6 and $3,000 for children up to 17. Families will receive the payments automatically, either through a direct deposit, a check or a debit card.

A majority of Georgia families will get the credits. Monthly payments of $250 or $300 per child per month begin July 15 for this year and will finish out in 2022 in Georgians’ 2021 tax returns.

Because the credits are temporary, Ossoff said he’d back efforts that would make them permanent. The White House’s proposed American Families Plan would extend them through 2025.


Spotted on the Atlanta Beltline Tuesday: Bicycle enthusiast U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, zooming past cameras set up for his press conference to pitch the Democrats’ infrastructure spending plans.


A website launched by Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, allows voters to check whether they’re one of the 102,000 people whose registrations could be canceled this year, our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports.

The website,, asks voters to type in their information, then lets them know if they’re on the state’s list for potential removal.

The site is based on the same information posted online by the secretary of state’s office in a downloadable spreadsheet.

Niesse reports it’s unlikely that many legitimate Georgia voters will find their names on the list. This year’s registration cancellations include just 276 names of people being removed because they haven’t voted in over eight years.

The remaining voters are people who filled out change of address forms with the postal service or had their mail returned.

“It is critical that every Georgia voter check their voter registration status to make sure it is active and up to date,” said Liza Conrad of Fair Fight Action. “ will allow Georgia voters to make sure they are not unjustly stripped of their access to the ballot box.”

Voters can also check their registration status on the state’s My Voter Page at Voters who are labeled “inactive” and have missed at least two straight general elections are at risk of cancellation.


Gov. Brian Kemp won office in 2018 in large part because of overwhelming support from rural Georgia.

And the committees he announced Tuesday to recommend how to spend the $4.8 billion in federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds coming to the state shows his rural base will have an outsized influence on the decisions affecting the entire state.

About half the state’s population lives in Metro Atlanta. But our colleague James Salzer reported that just two of the 20 lawmakers Kemp picked to serve on the committees live in the five core Metro Atlanta counties. None are from the city of Atlanta.

That’s not too surprising. Kemp’s Republican base is largely rural, while Metro Atlanta has become increasingly Democratic.

It also reflects the power centers of the GOP-led General Assembly, where Kemp’s budget and tax committee picks and floor leaders are nearly all non-Atlanta Republicans.

It’s not necessarily strictly a partisan issue. When Democrats ran the General Assembly, small-town, white male lawmakers held most of the power, just like small-town, white male Republicans do now.

Kemp picked five Democratic lawmakers to serve on the panel, including the dean of the General Assembly, Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus.


For your statewide candidate files, state Rep. Tyler Harper announced Tuesday that he’ll run for Agriculture Commissioner in 2022.

The Ocilla Republican said in a campaign video, “I’ll stand up to foreign competitors. Stand up to those who want to change our way of life. And I’ll protect Georgia values. Defending our farmers from bad policies.”

The post is being vacated by longtime Ag Commish Gary Black, who is running for U.S. Senate in 2022. Democrat Nakita Hemingway, who lost a state legislative race in Gwinnett last year, is also running.


A bill before the Georgia General Assembly to remove the statue of Alexander Stephens from the U.S. Capitol and replace it with a statue of the late Rep. John Lewis stalled out in state House earlier this year.

We were told at the time that objections had been raised by some GOP lawmakers that Lewis was not a “unifying” pick to replace the former Georgia governor and vice president of the Confederacy.

But on Tuesday, the U.S. House moved closer to forcing the issue by passing a bill that would require the removal of Stephens statue, other Confederate symbols and the bust of the Supreme Court justice responsible for the Dred Scott decision.

Although about a third of House Republicans supported the measure, none were from Georgia. Six of the state’s eight GOP lawmakers voted against the bill, and two others were absent.

While the legislation passed in the U.S. House, it’s unclear if the U.S. Senate will take it up and if it can get enough GOP support to overcome a filibuster.

Some House Republicans argued the measure wasn’t needed because states like Georgia are already addressing the issue on their own.

The state bill regarding the Stephens statue, which would replace it with one of former Congressman John Lewis, could be revived when the legislature reconvenes next year. Only time will tell.


We know you’re not here for your Jolters’ sports coverage, but can we get an Amen for those Atlanta Hawks? Thank you.


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