Trump: Herschel Walker will run for Senate in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump said Georgia Bulldog football great Herschel Walker told him he was going to run for the U.S. Senate, a decision that would make him the top Republican in the race against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.

“He told me he’s going to, and I think he will,” Trump said Tuesday on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show.” “I had dinner with him a week ago. He’s a great guy. He’s a patriot. He’s a very loyal person.”

Walker issued a statement late Tuesday saying that he’s “looking at the race closely” and will make a final 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.”

Trump has long encouraged Walker to run for the seat, triggering an awkward waiting game for Republicans that’s partially frozen the race for one of the top GOP targets in 2022. The most prominent Republican to enter the race so far is Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black; others have taken a pass or stayed on the sidelines.

Enterprising Republicans aren’t usually so eager to step aside for an out-of-state political newcomer to decide — Walker has lived in Texas for years — but support from the former president could be enough to swing a GOP primary in Georgia.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll earlier this year showed nearly 90% of Republicans have a favorable view of Trump. And Trump’s statement earlier this year that Walker would be “unstoppable” if he runs sent a jolt through GOP circles.

Still, even with Trump’s backing, Walker would have to clear a number of other obstacles, starting with a move to Georgia. He also must win over conservatives unfamiliar with his political leanings, hone policy stances, court donors and brace for scrutiny into a past that includes struggles with mental illness.

Some influential activists have publicly encouraged him to pass, while others are growing antsy for him to make up his mind, noting that Warnock has already consolidated Democratic support and has quickly amassed nearly $6 million in campaign donations.

Aside from Black, two military veterans — Kelvin King and Latham Saddler — have announced bids. Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler is also considering a rematch against Warnock, and she recently met with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

Earlier Tuesday, Republican state Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta told “The John Fredericks Show” that he’s “99%” sure that Walker would enter the race after July 4, when he settles a string of business considerations.

Trump was even more confident about Walker, who recently teased a possible move to Georgia with a tweet featuring his in-state license plate.

“I think he’d win. It would be very, very hard to beat Herschel,” Trump said on Travis and Sexton’s show, which aired in Atlanta on XTRA 106.3 FM. “I think beating him will be very tough. And I think he’ll run.”

Walker’s full statement:

“I have really been humbled by the encouragement from people all around Georgia and across the country who want me to run for US Senate - people are calling nonstop. I'm honored to have President Donald J. Trump's encouragement, too. We are looking at the race closely and we will make a final decision sometime soon. I'm not a politician — I'm working on my timetable, not anyone else's. Georgia is my home — I love Georgia, and I love this country. 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."

- Herschel Walker