Former President Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed onetime University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker for the U.S. Senate and state Sen. Burt Jones for lieutenant governor.
“Herschel Walker is a friend, a patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States senator,” Trump, who lost his reelection bid to Democrat Joe Biden in 2020, said in a statement. “He embodies ‘America First’ and the winning spirit of Georgia.”
Jones, a Jackson Republican, won Trump’s favor by backing the former president’s conspiracy theories that the election was stolen, both in Georgia and nationally. Three vote counts, by machine and by hand, confirmed Biden defeated Trump in Georgia, and the courts have rejected lawsuits that sought to overturn the results.
“No one has fought harder for Election Integrity than Burt, and no state needs it more,” Trump said. “He will also get to the bottom of the Nov. 3 presidential election scam.”
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican who didn’t go along with calls to overturn Georgia’s presidential election results, has said he won’t run for reelection.
Trump’s endorsement holds a lot of weight among Republicans and will likely make both Walker and Jones the front-runners in their GOP primary contests.
Walker, a longtime Texas resident who announced his Georgia candidacy last week, is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. First he will face Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, military veteran Kelvin King and Latham Saddler, a former Navy SEAL and Trump administration official, in May’s GOP primary.
Walker entered the race after months of pleas from Trump, who predicted the former running back would be as “unstoppable” as a candidate as he was on the field. “Run Herschel, run!” Trump said in March.
His endorsements of Walker and Jones were expected.
Jones had been angling to get Trump’s endorsement, saying last week during a campaign kickoff event that he felt confident he would get the nod.
Trump earlier this summer ruled out supporting state Senate Pro Tem Butch Miller, a Republican also running for lieutenant governor. Trump called on “strong and effective” challengers to enter the GOP primary.
Republican activist Jeanne Seaver also announced her intent to run for the office earlier this year.
Jones joined other Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly in December on a legal brief supporting Texas’ unsuccessful bid to have the election results overturned. The lawmakers only asked the court to do so in the presidential election, not their own races.