Herschel Walker
Mixed martial artist and the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, speaks during a news conference in support of Mix Martial Arts fighter safety research, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Will Herschel Walker unite Georgia voters?

Geoff Duncan

September 09, 12:00 AMSeptember 09, 12:00 AM

Everyone in the state of Georgia has seen, either firsthand or on a highlight reel, Herschel Walker carrying the football for the University of Georgia. No one, even a Georgia Tech alumnus such as myself, can question the three-time All-American and Heisman Trophy winner’s athletic successes.

Now Walker is entering the political arena as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. From one former professional athlete to another, welcome to your new playing field. Walker’s campaign is another example of America’s greatness. People from all walks of life can get involved with public service.

But like many Georgians, I have questions for Walker and his campaign. The only data points I’ve learned about him are that he has lived in Texas for decades and he’s close with former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Walker last week.

Is Walker going to run as a conservative Republican or a Trump Republican? The latter might prove enough to win a GOP primary in 2022, but it’s a proven recipe for defeat in the general election in Georgia.

We have seen firsthand Republican Senate candidates seek office offering nothing more than a promise to support Trump and his agenda. It doesn’t work. Just ask former Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

During last year’s Senate run-offs, both Loeffler and Perdue ran as extensions of Trump and effectively hired him as their campaign manager. They embraced his baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud and denigrated the importance of voting along the way. They failed to offer their own vision for the country.

Both ignored the Atlanta suburbs, where the population is growing, and focused on driving out the base in more rural parts of the state. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that you need to take your message to the places with the most voters to win a majority.

As a result, Georgia now has two liberals representing us in the U.S. Senate, and Republican Mitch McConnell is the minority, rather than majority, leader.

Just think: in less than a decade, we went from respected conservatives Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss to Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are both out of step with our state’s center-right electorate.

Ossoff and Warnock have marched right along with President Joe Biden’s agenda. They supported their party’s $3.5 trillion spending bill with all sorts of unexplainable special interest giveaways. Most importantly, because of their presence in Washington, conservatives lost the last check and balance on the Biden-Harris administration.

There is no question that Biden has failed his first test as commander in chief with the debacle in Afghanistan. It is my sincere hope for the well-being of those left behind, as well as the national security interests of all Americans, that the situation in Afghanistan gets better. But in the meantime, we need real congressional oversight to get to the bottom of what happened.

For those in my party who wish Republicans were leading those efforts, we have ourselves to blame. For the GOP to regain the Senate majority in 2022, we must defeat Warnock. There is no path to 51 votes otherwise. Georgia’s demographics are changing, but it is still a right-of-center state, and a right-of-center candidate can and should win.

Only time will tell if Herschel Walker rises to the occasion. Conservative Republicans across our state, myself included, will be watching the unfolding GOP primary. Hopefully, whoever rises to the top of the depth chart understands that it is not enough to win the first half; we must win the game.

Geoff Duncan, a Republican, is the lieutenant governor of Georgia.

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