by Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
October 4, 2022
Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker faced the toughest challenge of his candidacy so far Tuesday as twin scandals rocked his bid to unseat freshman Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
Late Monday night, the Daily Beast published a report alleging that Walker encouraged a former girlfriend to get an abortion and wrote a check to pay for the procedure. The anonymous woman provided the Daily Beast with supporting documents including a receipt from the clinic, a bank deposit receipt that included an image of a check from Walker and a “get well soon” card signed by the future Georgia candidate.
“I just can’t with the hypocrisy anymore,” the woman told the Daily Beast. “We all deserve better.”
Walker, who says he opposes abortion in any circumstance, denied the accusation, calling it a partisan hit job and pledging to sue the Daily Beast by Tuesday morning.
“This is a flat-out lie – and I deny this in the strongest possible terms,” he said in a statement.
Following the report, Walker’s son, a conservative social media influencer, leveled new claims of abuse and philandering against his father.
“I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us,” Christian Walker tweeted. “You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.” Screenshot of a video statement Christian Walker posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Oct. 4
The report and the younger Walker’s comments represent the latest in a series of unfavorable stories that have bedeviled Walker’s campaign since its inception.
When Herschel Walker threw his hat into the ring, Christian Walker was thought to be his only child, but he later acknowledged three more children with different mothers.
Christian Walker’s mother has accused her ex-husband of violent behavior, including holding a gun to her head and threatening to kill her. Multiple reports suggest he has fabricated or exaggerated details about his business interests and law enforcement background.
Walker has acknowledged a history of mental illness and characterized negative stories about his past as partisan attacks.
<h4>Will it matter? </h4>
Walker’s baggage has not kept him out of the mix so far. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Warnock with an advantage of less than 1% and likely to face a December runoff vote. All of the polls in the average were conducted before the new allegations, and it remains to be seen how swing voters will react, said Jason Shepherd, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University and former chair of the Cobb County GOP.
Cobb County, once a conservative bastion, has voted for Democrats in recent elections. But because of its population, it could still provide a large number of raw votes to boost Republicans in close statewide races, and both campaigns have been seeking to woo suburban swing voters.
Many of those voters may be more worried about their pocketbooks than Walker’s family drama or alleged hypocrisy.
“When they get to that voting screen or when they’re seeing their absentee ballot in front of them, is it going to be the these issues, or is it going to be the fact that the price of a dozen eggs has almost doubled, there’s a butter shortage, gas is still above $3 a gallon, these economic issues?” Shepherd said.
A Monmouth University poll released Monday found that 82% of respondents called inflation “extremely or very important,” and only 30% of respondents approve of President Joe Biden’s handling of the issue. Shepherd’s best advice for Walker is to talk about inflation.
“He needs to be hyper focused on his message. He needs to dismiss the attacks, but then he needs to pivot back to the message, and the message is the economy,” he said. “If you like the way the Democrat majority has been running the economy, vote Warnock, but it’s hard to find people who like the way the Democrat majority has run the economy.”
Another potential danger for Walker would be a loss of party support. With the balance of power in the Senate at play, both sides have been spending tremendous amounts of money in the state.
“The question is, when you’re talking about a statewide race in an expensive media market, will Walker have enough money through just Georgia donors to get the money out, or will the National Republican Senatorial Committee look at the Walker campaign and say, ‘Well, we’ve already spent enough money here, let’s focus on Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or some other states,’” Shepherd said. “And that’s really the danger to Herschel Walker.”
Committee Chairman Florida Sen. Rick Scott showed support for Walker, calling the allegations against Walker politically motivated lies.
“This is just like the smears they attempted against Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, and it will not work,” Scott said in a statement. “Herschel has denied these allegations and the NRSC and Republicans stand with him, and Georgians will stand with him too.”
Former President Donald Trump, whose support helped Walker win the nomination, echoed Scott in a statement.
“They are trying to destroy a man who has true greatness in his future, just as he had athletic greatness in his past,” Trump said. “It’s very important for our Country and the Great State of Georgia that Herschel Walker wins this Election. With all that Herschel has accomplished, when you come from Georgia, and you see the name Herschel Walker when voting, it will be very hard to resist. Don’t!”
<h4>‘The real story here is that everyone should have that right’</h4>
Warnock has not directly commented on the allegations, but other Georgia Democrats took Walker to task Tuesday.
State Sen. Nikki Merritt, a Grayson Democrat, said the news underscores “the hypocrisy” surrounding what is a deeply personal medical decision.
“I think that highlights how complex this issue is and that it isn’t a partisan decision – clearly. I don’t care what Herschel is saying outwardly, but we have proof that he thinks differently,” Merritt said Tuesday.
Georgia Democrats have put abortion access at the center of their campaigns in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Most Republican candidates have steered clear of the subject, but Walker has openly supported a no-exception ban on abortion. And when U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham made news with a proposed 15-week ban, Walker was one of the few Republicans to say he would support it if elected. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, speaks at a press conference Tuesday at the state Capitol. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder
“Every woman has a story of loss, of miscarriage, of wanting to be pregnant, not wanting to be pregnant. So apparently, most Republicans have a story too,” Atlanta Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan, who is running for attorney general, said when asked about Walker.
“Autonomy, access to contraception, to health care should not be a partisan issue,” Jordan added. “Unfortunately, it has become one and if women in this state want to continue to be able to make choices about their lives and their bodies – just like Herschel Walker was able to make – then they need to vote for Democrats.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju, who was in Atlanta Tuesday to announce the results of a new poll, said she welcomed any attention the reporting on Walker’s past may bring to reproductive health care and abortion access.
“But the real story here is that everyone should have that right. Everyone should have access. And in Georgia today, they do not,” Timmaraju said.
The group’s new Georgia poll, conducted by EMC Research, found that 62% of those surveyed opposed both the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade and the state’s six-week ban on most abortions. Among Black men, 86% of them took issue with the Supreme Court’s ruling, according to the poll.
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