The Jolt: Herschel Walker rumors blocking top Republicans in Senate race

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 former Bulldog great Herschel Walker is still making noise about a U.S. Senate bid, floating the possibility of a campaign against Democrat Raphael Warnock to a growing number of media outlets while refusing to offer specifics.

Let’s unpack what we know, and what we don’t know, about Walker’s potential run.

He’s frozen the field: Two new military veterans with impressive resumes have jumped in the GOP race. But none of the bigger names have joined yet, including Attorney General Chris Carr, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and ex-U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

That’s because former President Donald Trump publicly encouraged Walker to launch what would be his first run for public office, saying he would be “unstoppable,” just like when he donned the red and black.

Normally, ambitious politicians wouldn’t so patiently wait on an out-of-state newcomer to make up his mind (Walker lives in Texas). But as last weekend’s county Republican meetings reminded us, it’s still Trump’s word in the state GOP.

So the rest of the field is, indeed, waiting on Walker to make his move. As Carter put it to CNN, if “Herschel doesn’t run, then I can run.”

Walker is fueling the rumors himself: In a handful of recent Fox News appearances, Walker has offered bland vagaries about a bid. He told Sean Hannity this week that, “If I run, I’m running to win.” And he let CNN know he is “thinking about it.”

But even some powerful Republicans trying to game out his timetable say he’s been difficult to pin down. All the while, Warnock is building an impressive campaign warchest and gearing up for 2022 with a united party behind him.

He needs to move to Georgia: Not only has Walker never faced the rigors of the campaign trail before, but to qualify for the Senate he is constitutionally required to move to Georgia from his long-time base in Texas, where he’s lived for much of his adult life, before the November 2022 election.

More immediately, he would have to win over a grassroots crowd that can turn on even the most stalwart conservatives (see: Gov. Brian Kemp). Trump’s endorsement will go a long way, of course, but an untested Walker would have to prove his bona fides.

Now some of what we don’t know:

Why did Trump pick Walker over some of his other favorites?

Trump and Walker certainly have a long, fruitful relationship. And Walker is a prominent GOP figure in his own right, with a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention under his belt.

But one rumor floating in state GOP circles is that the former president was so upset that Collins signaled his interest in a Senate run over the governor’s race that Trump issued the pro-Walker statement in reaction.

We can’t be sure, but we know that Trump has repeatedly pleaded with the former congressman to take on Kemp, who has yet to draw a top-tier Republican primary challenge.

Will other party honchos line up behind Walker? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement when he told CNN that the two have met but that it’s “wide open.”

In Georgia, several top Republicans worry Walker could start with a burst of enthusiasm and collapse under the weight of a high-pressure campaign.

Will his past complicate his bid?

Walker has been open about his diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, and how it’s shaped his life.

And he and his loved ones are on the record about some of the darkest moments, including an assault of his then-wife and dangerous games of “Russian Roulette” with guests at his house.

Already, some Republican critics are circulating stories of the violent episodes of his past. But he could also use his struggles with the disorder to shine light on mental illness and connect with voters in a more heartfelt way.


A reminder for all those who thought Vernon Jones’ allegiance to former President Donald Trump would earn him an endorsement in his bid to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp: It’s been a week and Trump hasn’t yet weighed in.

We suspect he won’t, though there’s no telling. Not only does the former Democrat have a lengthy voting record that grassroots conservatives can’t easily forget, he also has a long history of scandal that Trump’s aides have vetted.

We posed the question earlier this month: Do Kemp’s critics hate him enough to vote for a former Democrat with baggage against a life-long Republican? We’re not holding our breath.


Endorsements can be tricky in any campaign. Look no further than the Democratic primary for Georgia Attorney General, where Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady had endorsed former prosecutor Charlie Bailey in his bid to challenge Republican AG Chris Carr, but rescinded that endorsement on Thursday.

Reached by the AJC, Broady explained that he made his choice in the AG’s race before he knew that state Sen. Jen Jordan would also be running for the post.

“That was a little premature,” Broady said of his decision.

Bailey got into the race in early January -- a fast start even by Georgia’s non-stop campaign standards. Broady supported Bailey at the time and even spoke at Bailey’s announcement event, saying, “I stand with Charlie Bailey.”

Jordan announced her candidacy last week after the state Legislature wrapped up its session. Candidates for office are prohibited from fundraising during the session and this year’s was even busier than most.

Broady said he will now remain neutral in the Democratic primary.

“Both Charlie and Jen are fantastic candidates and I would fully support either one that wins the primary,” he said. “I love them both.”


The U.S. Senate race isn’t the only one with a frozen field for ambitious GOP office seekers in Georgia.

The Lieutenant Governor’s race, too, has not truly gotten underway yet. That’s because top Republicans are waiting for a final, final announcement from current LG, Geoff Duncan.

Duncan has sent heavy smoke signals that he won’t be a candidate in 2022, with a top aide telling your Insiders weeks ago that Duncan is unlikely to run. Instead, he would focus on building “GOP 2.0,” his vision for for the next generation of Republican party that focuses more on conservative policy than rage Tweeting fellow Republicans, as an unnamed former president is prone to do.

But Duncan has not made a formal declaration himself, leaving others interested in the job waiting on the sidelines.

Case in point: Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller.

A top dog in the state Senate, Miller told the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce thi week he’s “carefully looking at it and evaluating” whether he’ll run for LG, the Gainesville Times reports.

But… “Until Geoff Duncan makes a decision, I don’t have a decision to make,” Miller said.

“I’d love to have that opportunity, but that door may not be open. But if it opens, I’d love to run through it like Herschel Walker. But that door is not open right now.”


We told you yesterday that some student and faculty opposition had bubbled up against the idea of former Gov. Sonny Perdue taking over as the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

Late Thursday, the Board of Regents said it has “paused” its search.

“We value the input received from faculty, staff, students, and community leaders throughout this process and want to ensure we meet the expectations of this challenging, yet critically important time in higher education,” the Board said in a statement.


We reported last week that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fundraising surpassed nearly every other member of the U.S. House. Now, ProPublica has more about how she and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley spent big dollars to rent fundraising lists from consultants, which they used to target potential donors. From the report:

“List rental" was the No. 1 expense for both campaigns, totaling almost $600,000 for each of them. It's common for campaigns to rent lists from outside groups or other candidates to broaden their reach. But for Hawley and Greene, the cost was unusually high, amounting to almost 20% of all the money they raised in January, February and March.

“The actual return on renting the lists was likely even lower, since it's probable that not all their donations came from emailing those lists. It's not possible to tell from the FEC filings which contributions resulted from which solicitations. Firms that sell lists sometimes demand huge cuts: The top vendor for Hawley and Greene, LGM Consulting Group, charges as much as 80%, according to a contract disclosed in Florida court records as part of a dispute involving Lacy Johnson's long-shot bid to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn."

- ProPublica


Georgia U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux has joined the Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition of some of the most conservative Democrats serving in the House.

Here is what she said about the decision to join the 19-member group focused on fiscal responsibility, supporting national defense and working across the aisle:

“I am very appreciative of the Blue Dog Coalition’s commitment to fiscally responsible solutions that serve the American people. Before coming to Congress, I led the Georgia Senate’s nonpartisan budget office and taught public policy and finance at Georgia State University, so the issues important to Blue Dogs are the ones I have spent my life working on.”


State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, is going back to college. Specifically, Reeves announced Thursday that he’s leaving the state House later this month to take a new job with his alma mater, Georgia Tech.

Reeves has been a top ally to Gov. Brian Kemp, serving as Kemp’s floor leader in the House. But Reeves’ highest loyalties on the floor were always obvious.

As a former official Buzz mascot for the Yellow Jackets in college, Reeves was often spotted wearing, talking about, and literally cheering for the White and Gold from the well of the House.

Earlier this year, Reeves led his fellow alums in a rousing rendition of the Ramblin’ Wreck fight song, in honor of the Jackets’ ACC basketball title.

Starting May 1, he will be Georgia Tech’s new vice president for institute relations.

Reeves was the lead House sponsor this year of the bill to repeal the state’s Citizens’ Arrest law. He also worked to make adoption and foster care more accessible.

He said in his announcement, “This is a perfect place for me to be, and I couldn’t be happier….Go Jackets!”


The Senate Democrats’ campaign arm tapped Jon Ossoff to chair its Blue Green Council, which will work to build support in the energy and clean tech sector for Senate candidates.


Thomasville native Christopher Coes is already settled into his new job as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation. But President Joe Biden on Thursday officially notified the U.S. Senate of his nomination, starting Coes’ confirmation process.

Coes joined the administration in January as the principal assistant deputy secretary and acting assistant secretary for transportation policy, where he focuses on surface transportation like freight railroads. He previously served as vice president of land use and development for Smart Growth America, an organization focused on urban planning and development.


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