The former NFL player and 'Celebrity Apprentice' contestant will face Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in November.
Georgia Republican voters selected Herschel Walker — the former National Football League player, business owner, and personal friend of former President Donald Trump — to be their Senate nominee on Tuesday.
With about 95% of the vote counted, it appears that Walker received 68% of the GOP primary vote. State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black finished second, with about 13% of the vote. Because he received an outright majority, the former football player avoided a runoff and now advances to the November general election.
Walker has been the subject of one controversy after another since changing his voter registration from Texas to Georgia last August to run for Senate.
In December, Walker addressed multiple claims of domestic abuse against his former spouse and other women. Asked by Axios about allegations by his ex-wife Cindy Grossman that he threatened her with knives and guns, Walker said, "I'm always accountable to whatever I've ever done. And that's what I tell people: I'm accountable to it."
Walker previously denied recalling any abusive behavior. In 2009, he published a book about his experience with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder that can include periods of memory loss.
But he also told the outlet that he never broke any law and that two other women were lying when they also accused him of abuse. "People can't just make up and add on and say other things that's not the truth. They want me to address things that they made up," he complained.
Walker has also been caught repeatedly lying about and exaggerating his record.
He bragged about his role as a co-chair of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, falsely claiming that he had "75 people in Washington" working for him. The 30-member commission has a staff typically of between two and five full-time employees. Trump appointed him to the panel in May 2018; President Joe Biden removed him in March for violating ethics rules.
Last December, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught him falsely claiming to have graduated from college. In April, CNN reported he had repeatedly lied about graduating from the University of Georgia "in the top 1% of his class" and being high school valedictorian.
The Journal-Constitution also reported in March that Walker had massively exaggerated his business achievements and the number of people he employed.
On Saturday, the Associated Press debunked his frequent claims about running a "charity" to help treat military service members and veterans for mental health problems. In reality, the wire service determined, Walker exaggerated his involvement with what is actually a for-profit company accused of defrauding the government and exploiting its clients.
While serving as a Trump appointee, Walker repeatedly pushed lies that the 2020 election was stolen and that Trump was the real winner in Georgia and nationally. As a Senate candidate, he has tried to downplay those false claims, telling a local outlet in April, "I don't know if there were problems with the 2020 election."
He has also come under fire for his ties to bigots and sexual predators.
Walker has had longstanding ties with homophobic gay conversion therapist Jerry Mungadze, who has claimed to be able to discern whether a person is gay or demon-possessed just by watching them color with crayons.
Though he canceled an October 2021 fundraising event with Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a supporter who used a Twitter avatar of syringes shaped like a swastika, he accepted the legal maximum contribution from her just one month later.
He also accepted a $1,000 donation from Alex Kozinski, a conservative federal appeals court judge who resigned his post in 2017 after at least 15 women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Walker has struggled with policy issues.
In 2020, he dishonestly claimed to have found a "mist" spray to prevent COVID-19.
In April, the multimillionaire candidate claimed it is "not right" to tax the wealthy.
This past weekend, Walker was asked about same-sex marriages and answered that "each state gotta determine that." The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that no state can block the freedom of adults to marry the person they choose.
Asked Tuesday if he would support any gun violence legislation after a mass shooter in Texas killed at least 19 children and 2 adults at an elementary school, Walker answered, "What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff. I like to see it," before walking off.
Several Senate Republicans initially opposed Walker's candidacy, noting his history of abuse accusations and his lack of experience. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly sought to recruit someone else.
"Some of it's pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that's true," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Politico last July. "I want to win that race. And to the extent that he's handicapped by some of these things that would make that unlikely, I'd prefer to have somebody else."
"Some of these issues he's going to have to figure out how to answer," Minority Whip John Thune told the outlet. "As a candidate, you have to be able to respond to hard questions. And your background becomes an issue, your experience becomes an issue. Sometimes, people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it's not as easy as it looks."
But they quickly lined up behind him after Trump — for whom Walker worked both as a player in the defunct United States Football League and as a failed contestant on the "Celebrity Apprentice" television show — endorsed him.
The race is expected to be a toss-up in a state narrowly won by President Joe Biden in 2020.
Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats overwhelmingly re-nominated Sen. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church who was elected last January to fill the final two years of the late Sen. Johnny Isakson's (R-GA) term. Warnock received about 96% of the Democratic primary vote.
Over his first 16 months in the Senate, Warnock has voted for legislation to address racial and ethnic disparities in veterans' benefits, helped pass bipartisan legislation to address the national baby formula shortage, and secured more than $41 billion in federal funds for his state.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.