The Jolt: Buddy Carter’s waiting game has a name, ‘Herschel Walker’

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter speaks at the Georgia GOP convention at Jekyll Island on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Credit: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter speaks at the Georgia GOP convention at Jekyll Island on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Photo: Nathan Posner for The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution)

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is not just considering a bid for U.S. Senate, he’s actively preparing for it — but only if Herschel Walker decides not to get into the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

The Pooler Republican said in an interview at the Savannah airport Wednesday that while he still wants to make the run, Walker has the one thing he and (almost) every Republican in America wants right now: the ongoing support of former President Donald Trump.

Navy veteran Latham Saddler, state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and business owner Kelvin King are already running in the GOP primary, but Trump has called Walker “unstoppable” in Georgia.

“If Herschel is going to run, I’m going to support him. And so is President Trump,” Carter said. “And that means he’s going to win the primary.”

He added, “I’m not interested in political suicide. I ain’t gonna run against Herschel Walker in the state of Georgia. I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.”

Like the rest of the GOP apparatus in the state, the former pharmacist has no idea exactly what Walker is planning. Carter said he has spoken with Walker several times about the race, but not in a month or so.

“We’re controlling what we can control,” he said. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

That means Carter has already hired an early campaign team, traveled the state to drum up support, and even written a campaign launch announcement that’s “on the shelf and ready to go.”

Mostly, though, he laughed, “I’ve spent a lot of money.”

It’s an extraordinary state of play for the Georgia GOP when a longtime Republican congressman who is also a former state legislator (in both the House and Senate) and local mayor needs the support of a former president who is actively attacking other top Georgia Republicans. But that’s the reality heading into 2022.

If Walker does get in, the congressman said he’s planning to run for reelection in the First Congressional District.

“We’ve got to stay focused on our mission and our mission is to get a conservative Republican in that seat,” he said. “We don’t need to be fighting against each other.”


More key fundraising numbers are trickling in. Here’s what we know:


As reported last week, Gov. Brian Kemp is on a record-setting fundraising pace with a $12 million overall haul this cycle and about $9 million cash in the bank.

His main Republican rival, Vernon Jones, reported raising roughly $650,000 since entering the race earlier this year.

Kemp’s expected Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, has yet to enter the race.

-Lieutenant governor:

Republican Butch Miller put up a big number for a down-ticket contest. He’s set to announce raising more than $2 million since entering the race five weeks ago. It’s not immediately clear how much the state senator has on hand.

Democratic state Rep. Erick Allen raised roughly $106,000 and has $99,000 on hand.

Democratic state Rep. Derrick Jackson raised about $73,000 and has about $70,000 in the bank.

-Secretary of State:

Democrat Bee Nguyen says she’ll report raising about $386,000 since entering the race in early May. Nearly that entire sum is still in her campaign coffers.

Republican David Belle Isle says he’ll report collecting about $160,000 with $100,000 in the bank. Incumbent Brad Raffensperger and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice have yet to report.

-Attorney General:

Republican incumbent Chris Carr will report raising about $570,000 in the last three months, for a grand total of $1.3 million this cycle. He’ll have about $1 million in cash on hand for his re-election bid.

Democrat Jen Jordan reported raising about $673,000 for her bid.

Democrat Charlie Bailey has yet to file their paperwork.

-Labor Commissioner:

Incumbent Republican Mark Butler raised about $31,000 and loaned himself another $64,000. He’s got $95,000 in the bank.

He’s playing catchup against fellow GOPer Thompson, who raised about $100,000 and loaned himself another $150,000. He’s got another $235,000 on hand.

Democrats William Boddie, Nicole Horn and Lester Jackson have yet to report.

-U.S. House:

Matt Richards, the demolition man running for the GOP nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, will report he’s raised just over $100,000 since launching his campaign a month ago.

Richards also picked up an endorsement this week from Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith in the 10th Congressional District. Hice won the district with 63% of the vote in 2020.


Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan isn’t running for re-election, and his political committee to back Republican candidates, Advance Georgia, took only three special-interest contributions during the first half of 2021.

Our colleague James Salzer — who reviewed the group’s latest campaign disclosure — noted that two of the three contributions were reported to have been deposited during the General Assembly session: $20,000 from the American Federation for Children, an Alexandria, Va. school-choice lobby group, and $10,000 from health care mega-company Hospital Corporation of America. Both were listed on Advance Georgia’s report as being received Jan. 29, a few weeks into the General Assembly’s annual session.

Both groups have reason to give: Republicans have long pushed private school vouchers and other school-choice legislation. And few issues get as much legislative attention — and funding — as health care.

Advance Georgia officials said the checks were received before the session but deposited later.

State officials like Duncan and lawmakers have long been banned from taking campaign donations during legislative sessions in an effort to eliminate the appearance that they are being bought off for legislation or state funding.

However, the issue came up during the 2021 session when the majority Republicans passed legislation — largely on a party-line vote — allowing Gov. Brian Kemp, Duncan and General Assembly leaders from both parties to create so-called “leadership committees” to raise unlimited amounts of money from lobbyists, business groups and other special interests during General Assembly sessions.

As Salzer pointed out in articles earlier this year, political action committees and independent groups like Advance Georgia sponsored by legislative leaders can already legally raise money during legislative sessions, and some of them do. Attempts to pass a bill making that illegal died on the final day of the 2021 session.


Retired General Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has endorsed Vernon Jones in the governor’s race over incumbent Brian Kemp.

Flynn has recently made headlines for palling around with Q-Anon folks and suggesting President Joe Biden should be forcibly removed from office via a violent coup a la Myanmar.

In his endorsement message, Flynn notes that he, like Jones, is a former Democrat. Jones said that Flynn will soon join him on the campaign trail.


A judge has refused to halt implementation of Georgia’s new election law, a preliminary ruling in one of several lawsuits challenging the new voting procedures. More from the AJC’s Mark Niesse:

A federal judge denied an effort to invalidate parts of Georgia’s voting law Wednesday, the first court ruling upholding new rules passed after last year’s elections.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee wrote in his order that he wouldn’t “change the law in the ninth inning” amid ongoing runoffs for the state House. Boulee reserved judgment about future elections.

The lawsuit by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election security organization, opposed new requirements that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day, a deadline that limited the time available to vote by mail in the runoffs. The case also asked for court intervention to prevent restrictions on election observation.


Politics makes strange bedfellows. So does law school.

State Rep. Josh McLaurin, a liberal Democrat from Sandy Springs, revealed yesterday on Twitter he was roommates with hard-right conservative J.D. Vance their first year at Yale University Law School.

Vance, a best-selling author, was once a Donald Trump critic now seeking the former president’s endorsement as he runs for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio.


We’ve picked up word that the Metro Atlanta Chamber is exploring ways to grapple with the spike in crime in the city.

The influential business lobby’s leaders are meeting with law enforcement officials, government leaders and community advocates to determine how to engage and help reverse the increase in crime.

We won’t be surprised if the group charts out a plan in the next few weeks.


Crime will be a focal point of this year’s mayoral race, and one of the first big candidate forums is on the books. Mark your calendars for July 21; the event will be held with a live audience and also streamed online.

Upper Westside CID is co-sponsoring the event along with Northwest Community Alliance. Candidates Antonio Brown, Andre Dickens, Sharon Gay and Felicia Moore have confirmed attendance, the groups announced.

The highest-profile candidate, former Mayor Kasim Reed, is currently not expected to attend.


State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, asked for prayers for his family on Twitter Wednesday, saying that his son, Will, had unexpectedly gone into kidney failure last year.

Doctors told the family that Will would need a kidney transplant. Albers found out recently that he is a match for his son, so will be donating his kidney to Will in a transplant surgery later this month.


With the one-year anniversary of the late John Lewis’ death approaching, local leaders cut the ribbon Wednesday to open the new Cook Park in Atlanta’s historic Vine City neighborhood. A focal point of the park is a seven-foot statue of Lewis facing toward Atlanta.

The park itself is named for the late Rodney Mims Cook Sr., a former Atlanta City Councilman and Republican state legislator who once ran for mayor of Atlanta, when he lost to Sam Massell.

A controversy erupted in the neighborhood in 2019 over whom the park should be named after.

Cook was known as a vocal proponent of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. He was one of two Atlanta city council members to vote against the Peyton Wall, a barrier built by city leaders in 1962 to separate Black and white neighborhoods.


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