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The 3 things Republicans blamed for Herschel Walker's loss

The Republican finger-pointing is in full swing after the party’s disastrous performance in the Georgia Senate runoff.

By Emily Singer - December 07, 2022
Republican Senate challenger Herschel Walker speaks during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has defeated Walker in a runoff election in Georgia.
Republican Senate challenger Herschel Walker speaks during an election night watch party, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has defeated Walker in a runoff election in Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Republicans across the country are playing the blame game after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) handily defeated GOP nominee Herschel Walker in Tuesday night’s Senate runoff to serve a full six-year term in the Senate.

The loss was the cherry on top of a disappointing midterm election for Republicans, who lost a seat in the Senate and won a narrow House majority that could be ungovernable with such a fractious caucus.

Warnock’s nearly 2.8-point victory gives Democrats a full majority in the Senate, which will make it easier for the party to confirm President Joe Biden’s judicial and federal nominees quicker and gives Democratic leadership breathing room to pass other legislation without Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s vote.

Now, GOP leaders and figureheads are rushing to find a scapegoat for their poor performance in a year when historical trends and Biden’s sagging approval ratings created the perfect conditions for a Republican wave.

Here’s who Republicans are blaming for Walker’s defeat:

Donald Trump

Many Republicans are turning their ire to the former president after Walker’s loss, saying Trump’s early endorsement of Walker — despite knowledge of Walker’s history of domestic violence allegations — saddled the party with an unelectable nominee.

Once Walker won the primary, Republicans said Trump didn’t spend resources to help Walker’s campaign.

“Donald Trump convinced him to get into the race. Then Donald Trump did virtually nothing to help him,” Erick Erickson, a right-wing radio commentator from Georgia, wrote in a post-mortem. “In fact, what Trump did — speaking up about Walker during Trump’s own announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago — was used against Walker.”

Republicans said Trump’s elevation of Walker marks the latest time Trump has caused the party to lose in Georgia — including two Senate races, the state’s 16 Electoral College votes in 2020, and now a full Senate term in Georgia in 2022.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted on Wednesday, “Trump has now lost 4 races in Georgia in two years. One of his own and 3 by proxy. Similar stories in AZ and PA. He has a swing-state problem for 2024 that is real.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called Trump’s endorsement a “kiss of death” in a competitive general election.

Former Trump administration official John Bolton tweeted Wednesday morning that “The outcome in Georgia is due primarily to Trump, who cast a long shadow over this race.”

“His meddling and insistence that the 2020 election was stolen will deliver more losses,” Bolton added. “Trump remains a huge liability and the Democrat’s best asset. It’s time to disavow him and move on.”

Mitch McConnell

As media outlets and election forecasters called the race for Warnock, Fox News host Laura Ingraham turned her rage toward Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom she blamed for not helping Walker enough.

McConnell’s super PAC spent $45 million attacking Warnock and $8.7 million to boost Walker, according to Open Secrets.

However, McConnell griped about Republican “candidate quality” in the 2022 midterms, which political experts took to mean people like Walker.

“To me, it never felt like the Senate Republicans wanted this guy in office,” Ingraham said. “He was a Trump pick, they didn’t like that… But there wasn’t the intensity on the part of the Republicans as there was on the part of the Democrats. I felt it, you felt it. But we don’t change anything. We have the same people in place in leadership. The same people in place, apparently, at the RNC, perhaps that’s not changing. We just keep doing the same thing over and over again. I’m pissed tonight, frankly.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) also blamed McConnell and other Republican Senators for Walker’s loss.

“This is for Mitch McConnell and [Sen.] Lindsey Graham and the rest of the Republican Senators: You guys are the reasons why we are losing Republican races all over the country,” Greene said on the podcast of former Trump campaign official Steve Bannon, who was convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to four months in prison. “And this is your third loss in my home state, so let me inform you on behalf of Georgia: This is your third strike, and you’re out. You don’t belong in our state running key races anymore. No thank you, we don’t want your help.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) didn’t mention McConnell by name, but he called for new leadership in the wake of Walker’s loss.

“Another Senate election, another GOP loss. Maybe time for Senate GOP to change direction, craft a new agenda to, you know, appeal to voters,” Hawley, who did not support McConnell in a Senate leadership vote, tweeted. “Just a thought.”

Herschel Walker himself

Last, but certainly not least, Republicans are blaming Walker himself for his loss.

Walker had a mountain of baggage that dragged down his campaign — from domestic violence allegations to secret children to women coming forward saying Walker paid for them to have abortions, even while he said he’s against the procedure.

“I think Herschel Walker will probably go down as one of the worst Republican candidates in our party’s history,” Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan told CBS News on Dec. 1.

Even Walker’s own son, Christian Walker, criticized his father for getting into the race in the first place.

“Don’t beat women, hold guns to peoples heads, fund abortions then pretend your [sic.] pro-life, stalk cheerleaders, leave your multiple minor children alone to chase more fame, lie, lie, lie, say stupid crap, and make a fool of your family..[sic.] And then maybe you can win a senate seat,” Christian Walker tweeted Tuesday night after his father’s loss.

What’s more, Walker was a walking gaffe machine, making bizarre and nonsensical comments on the trail.

In fact, in the final weekend of the runoff, Walker seemed to be confused about what chamber of Congress he was running for, saying voters “know right now that the House will be even so they don’t want to understand what is happening right now.”

His comments prompted some Republican elected officials — including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Tim Scott (R-SC) — to do interviews seated alongside Walker in which they’d answer most of the questions instead of Walker.

Dan McLagan, who advised a candidate who lost to Walker in the primary, had some colorful language to describe Walker’s flaws as a candidate.

“Herschel was like a plane crash into a train wreck that rolled into a dumpster fire. And an orphanage. Then an animal shelter,” McLagan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You kind of had to watch it squinting through one eye between your fingers.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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