Graham pushes former NFL player accused of domestic violence to run for Senate

1943

Even the South Carolina senator's colleagues appear to be against the idea.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) enthusiastically backed a potential Senate campaign for former professional football player Herschel Walker on Friday. But some of his GOP colleagues seem unsold on the idea, given that Walker has faced accusations of domestic abuse.

"As to @HerschelWalker running for US Senate in Georgia, I enthusiastically support his candidacy. Why? Because he's a solid conservative who fits Georgia like a glove," Graham tweeted, despite the fact that Georgia voted for President Joe Biden last November and elected two Democrats in January Senate runoffs.

"Herschel has lived an incredible life and has much to offer the people of Georgia. Most importantly, he can win. To those who doubt he can win: If you ran against him in Georgia, he would run you over!" he added.

Former President Donald Trump has been pushing Walker, a former University of Georgia Bulldogs football player who reportedly still lives in Texas, to run against first-term Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022.

Walker played for a team in the short-lived United States Football League that was owned by Trump in the early 1980s, and he was a failed contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" television show in 2009. Walker also endorsed Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention, claiming that he took it as a "personal insult" that people say Trump is racist.

The Associated Press reported last Friday that court records show Walker's ex-wife obtained a protective order against him in 2005. She alleged controlling and violent behavior, including once pointing a gun at her and threatening to shoot her in the head.

In 2001, she cited "physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior" in her divorce filing against Walker.

Walker did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Some GOP senators seem unexcited by the idea of Walker trying to join their ranks.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Politico Friday that the allegations against Walker were concerning.

"Some of it's pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that's true," he said. "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."

Senate Minority Whip John Thune told the outlet that while Walker has a celebrity "wow factor," that might not be enough.

"Some of these issues he's going to have to figure out how to answer," the South Dakota Republican observed. "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."

"Obviously on the surface, you're starting to have to explain something that's difficult and not necessarily favorable," added North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer.

But Graham told Politico that the reports on Walker are "bullshit."

"He represents Georgia better than Warnock, he's conservative with people's money, he's fiscally and socially conservative," he argued. "He's been successful, he's struggled, he's a real person."

Even if Walker does decide to run, it is unclear if he would win the GOP nomination. Several Republicans, including State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, have already announced their candidacy.

A May poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found 48% of Georgia voters have a favorable impression of Warnock; 41% said they had an unfavorable opinion.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.