The Jolt: Herschel Walker to make first public appearance, but not for Senate campaign

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Herschel Walker officially announces campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia

Herschel Walker officially announces campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia

The opening weeks of Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker’s campaign have revolved around three things: Football, fundraisers and Fox News. But he’s had no public events with Georgia voters.

So far, the former Georgia football star hasn’t held or announced a campaign rally. And he’s only conducted interviews with friendly media -- Sean Hannity boasted of their friendship a half-dozen times during a brief interview.

This weekend, he’ll make his first public appearance since he entered the U.S. Senate race more than two weeks ago, but it won’t be for his campaign for the nomination to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Instead, Walker’s political team confirms he’ll be at the University of Georgia’s football home opener against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Saturday. It’s the first time since November 2019 that Sanford Stadium will host a full-capacity crowd.

He’ll take part in a reunion of the Bulldog squad from the early 1980s, a team that also included quarterback Buck Belue, wideout Lindsey Scott, defensive standouts Freddie Gilbert and Jimmy Payne, and kicker Kevin Butler.

We’re not sure of the exact details, but we don’t expect any political speechifying.

Last year, UGA held a 40th anniversary of the 1980 national championship squad that was scaled back due to the pandemic. The 1981 team was an SEC co-champion, losing narrowly to Dan Marino-led Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl.


President Joe Biden unveiled a new COVID-19 action plan on Thursday that will mandate vaccines for millions of federal employees and contractors, as well as health care workers at facilities receiving federal dollars.

In addition, private companies with 100 or more workers will have to mandate vaccines or implement weekly testing.

As you could guess, many Republican lawmakers were incensed at the new mandates, describing them as government overreach. Gov. Brian Kemp threatened to file suit.

“I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration,” he said, though legal scholars said he had dubious basis for a court challenge.

Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, encouraged Georgians to get their vaccinations but said Biden’s plan could undermine efforts to increase the inoculation rate.

“The federal government has no right to place this mandate on private workplaces that have been struggling over the past 18 months and are desperate to hire workers.”

The announcement also quickly ended up as fodder for Republicans on the campaign trail. Among the many enraged Republicans was GOP LG candidate Jeanne Seaver, who quickly put out a statement with a message to Biden: “You can shove your mandates where the sun don’t shine!”


The Georgia WIN List, which works to elected pro-choice Democratic women in Georgia, hosted a panel discussion Thursday to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision not to intervene in Texas’ new six-week abortion ban.

The panelists included three Georgia lawmakers, state Sen. Jen Jordan, the Atlanta Democrat running for state Attorney General, state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Atlanta, and state Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek.

Georgia’s own six-week abortion-ban law, which passed in 2019, is scheduled for a federal appeals court review during the week of Sept. 24.

Evans spoke about the personhood language in the Georgia law, which gives full legal rights to fertilized eggs.

“Once that fertilized egg has rights, now a woman can be charged with first-degree murder for having an abortion,” she said, referring to the additional legal questions the Georgia law could create for women.

Jordan called the law, “a Pandora’s box,” and predicted the Georgia personhood amendment could also eventually end fertility treatments in the state.


In the midst of a tight City Hall race, a civil rights group is launching an ad campaign that supports Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ plan to close the 1,300-bed Atlanta City Detention Center and turn it into a community center.

The 30-second spot from Communities over Cages blasts the $14 million annual price tag of the “massive extra jail,” which currently holds roughly 50 people a night. (Bottoms’ proposal to repurpose the building has an estimated $90 million price tag.)

We’re told the group behind the ad put roughly $200,000 to air it, making it one of the most expensive TV buys during the City Hall campaign season, although it’s targeted only to sitting members of the Atlanta City Council.

The organization also promoted a poll by HITstrategies that says about 54% of likely Atlanta voters support shuttering the jail, a number that grows to 66% after poll respondents are shown “persuasive” messaging.

There has also been local opposition to the idea since Bottoms’ proposed it. Fulton County has tried to rent the space in an effort to reduce overcrowding of its own system.

As our City Hall team reported this week, among the top field of mayoral candidates, most support keeping the jail open. Just one, Councilman Antonio Brown, has expressed support for closing the jail.


POSTED: DeKalb County’s election director is on an “extended leave of absence,” the AJC’s Tyler Estep reports.

No explanation was provided for (Erica) Hamilton's leave, which was effective Thursday. Hamilton, who first took over as DeKalb's elections director in the fall of 2017, has been the frequent target of criticism from board members, county commissioners and other local officials.

During last year's never-ending election cycle, those leaders frequently questioned Hamilton and then-elections board chair Sam Tillman about their sense of urgency in adopting changes and their willingness to accept assistance and new ideas.

An outside consultants' report published last year also found that Hamilton was too involved in the department's day-to-day operations to effectively manage “policy and executive functions." And DeKalb Democrats chairman John Jackson called for Hamilton and Tillman to resign just a few weeks before last November's election, saying “they just refuse to do their job."

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Gov. Brian Kemp and four Georgia congressmen will participate in a Monday evening rally sponsored by the conservative Heritage Action organization.

It’s a part of the “Save Our Paychecks” tour, which aims to amplify opposition to President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, including a $3.5 trillion social services bill being drafted by Democrats in Congress.

A press release publicizing the event makes clear that part of the focus will be on calling out Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who have both indicated support for the latest proposal, which could include universal prekindergarten, two years of free college and efforts to address climate change.

Kemp will be joined by U.S. Reps. Rick Allen, Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk during the event at an Atlanta brewery.


Republican U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk has signed onto a Republican-sponsored bill that aims to overturn a recent mandate that members of the U.S. military get COVID-19 vaccinations.

The bill is sponsored by Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, one of the House’s most conservative members.

“This is a doctor/patient decision, and one that should remain private,” the Cassville Republican wrote on Twitter.

We checked in with Loudermilk’s office to see if he opposes all mandatory vaccinations for the military, since the coronavirus shot is one of as many as 17 that new enlistees are required to have.

The response from his spokesman: “Congressman Loudermilk is supporting the bill by Rep. Massie that would specifically prohibit mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for our men and women in the military.”


Former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson filed paperwork Wednesday to run for the open House seat of the late state Rep. Mickey Stephens. She joins a crowded and growing field of hopefuls for the spot in the General Assembly.

Why run for another office? “I don’t know how to stop,” she said, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Gov. Brian Kemp called for a special election to fill Stephens’ seat shortly after the longtime lawmaker passed away. Filing for the race closes Friday.

The special election will be held Nov. 2nd.


We told you yesterday about the federal commission considering new names for military bases around the country currently named for Confederate fighters.

Two Georgia bases-- Fort Benning and Fort Gordon-- are on the list to be changed.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer today writes today about the family of Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, the decorated Vietnam veteran and co-author of We were Soldiers Once, and Young. The family has been told that “Fort Moore,” is under consideration as a possible replacement to Ft. Benning.

The Moores have deep ties to the base (Hal Moore is buried there), and say the name would honor not just Moore, but also his wife, Julie, who supported the family and community, especially during her husband’s deployments.


In endorsement news: the left-leaning voting rights groups End Citizens United and Let America Vote, which merged last year, have endorsed U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in her 2022 re-election bid.


Since it’s Friday, we like to send you into the weekend with a little light reading.

  • Jamie Dupree’s Thursday column on the tax increases written into Democrats’ two upcoming signature pieces of legislation;
  • Patricia Murphy’s Political Insider column from Wednesday, which looks at how Georgia’s 2022 candidates have responded to the Texas abortion law;
  • And a look ahead at Sunday’s Political Insider column, talking to Latham Saddler about how his journey from UGA to the Navy SEALS and now a Senate campaign, all began on 9/11.


Also, be sure to tune into our weekly podcast, Politically Georgia, when your Insiders cover the greatest hits in Georgia politics every Friday.

This week, we talk about Donald Trump’s upcoming trip to Georgia, the politics of COVID, and Herschel Walker’s first dip into policy for his Senate race.


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