Herschel Walker's supporters are suggesting Ron DeSantis would be better on Georgia campaign trail than Donald Trump, report says
The merits of Trump's presence are being debated, and Georgia Republicans feel that DeSantis' support would be a big boost, CNN reported.So far, Americans have dealt devastating blows to his brand by rejecting key candidates in closely-contested races. Rather than a so-called "red wave," results were still unclear on Wednesday. Republicans are likely to win control of the House but the Senate is still in play for both parties.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Republicans insist they're working together to help Herschel Walker unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a Georgia runoff that offers the GOP a chance to finish a disappointing midterm election season with a victory. © Provided by The Associated Press This combination of photos shows, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 3, 2021, left, and Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaking in Perry, Ga., Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo)
But to win a 50th Senate seat on Dec. 6 and limit Democrats’ continued majority, Republicans must overcome doubts about Walker’s appeal in a battleground state, navigate open squabbles among party powerbrokers in Washington and endure the specter of former President Donald Trump as he launches his third White House bid after losing Georgia in 2020.
For Weary Georgia Voters, Senate Runoff Brings a Sense of Déjà Vu
ATLANTA — Georgia voters should be forgiven for their sense of déjà vu: Once again, one of their major elections has gone to a runoff. Once again, the nation is watching. Once again, after a bitterly fought campaign, the stakes are high. So are the costs. According to AdImpact, a media tracking firm, the general election contest between Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, and Herschel Walker, the Republican challenger, generated $195 million in radio and TV ads, many of them blisteringly negative. And more are coming. So perhaps voters should also be forgiven for needing to fend off election fatigue.
© Provided by The Associated Press FILE - Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker speaks during a campaign stop at Battle Lumber Company on Oct. 6, 2022, in Wadley, Ga. Republicans insist they’re working together to help Herschel Walker unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in next month's Georgia runoff. But to win a 50th Senate seat on Dec. 6 and limit Democrats’ continued majority, Republicans must overcome doubts about Walker’s appeal in a battleground state. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
It adds up to the same challenges that limited GOP victories nationally despite an underwater approval rating for President Joe Biden and widespread frustrations with the nation's direction.
“Everybody realizes that regardless of any disagreements that do or don’t exist, everybody needs to focus on one thing: helping Herschel get across the finish line,” said Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise.
DeSantis overtakes Trump as the 2024 presidential nominee Republicans prefer, new YouGov poll says
The YouGov poll, taken days after the midterms, is a reversal of previous polls that put Donald Trump ahead among Republican voters.So far, Americans have dealt devastating blows to his brand by rejecting key candidates in closely-contested races. Rather than a so-called "red wave," results were still unclear on Wednesday. Republicans are likely to win control of the House but the Senate is still in play for both parties.
But they must do it without the Senate majority on the line, as it was in a pair of Georgia runoffs in January 2021. Democrats have already secured 50 seats with narrow incumbent victories in Nevada and Arizona combined with flipping a GOP-held Pennsylvania seat, and Vice President Kamala’s Harris tiebreaking vote assures them a majority.
So, Walker, who spent the fall trying to nationalize his race by mocking Warnock as a yes-man for Biden, must fashion a runoff coalition knowing that nothing voters do here will depose New York's Chuck Schumer as Senate majority leader.
“There are still national implications,” Paradise said, arguing that Republicans around the country are “fired up” for a second chance after an underwhelming midterm performance. “We’re very comfortable framing this as the last fight of ’22.”
Like many losing GOP nominees this year, Walker has struggled among moderates and independents, with many questioning his qualifications, according to AP VoteCast surveys of voters. Walker trailed Warnock by about 35,000 votes out of almost 4 million. Perhaps more tellingly, the same electorate gave Republican Gov. Brian Kemp 200,000 more votes than Walker — enough for a comfortable reelection victory.
Mitch McConnell laments that there's no stopping Trump from inserting himself into Georgia's Senate race but says the runoff gives Republicans 'another chance to get it right'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sees Georgia's pending runoff as a shot at midterms redemption — unless Trump blows the whole thing up."All of a sudden, I'm a fan of the runoff. We've got another chance to get it right," McConnell said at a Wednesday press conference of the unsettled contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed challenger Herschel Walker.
Walker, a former college and professional football star and a close friend of Trump's, was urged by the former president to run. That cements Walker’s bond with core GOP supporters but presents a challenge in Republican-leaning metro areas that helped Biden top Trump here two years ago.
“Trump probably does more to juice Democratic turnout than have an effect on our guy,” said Josh Holmes, a prominent Republican fundraiser and strategist aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has icy relations with the former president. But Holmes added, “We don’t know what the impact will be.”
It’s clear Republicans hope Kemp’s popularity extends to Walker, even if it wasn’t enough in the first round. Kemp avoided Walker throughout the fall, pointedly not saying the Senate candidate's name when asked about Walker’s difficulties, which include exaggerated claims about his business, philanthropic and academic record; accusations of violence against his first wife; and claims by two former girlfriends that Walker paid for their abortions despite his public opposition to abortion rights.
Georgia Senate Rivals, With Little Time to Spare, Sprint Toward Runoff
ATLANTA — As Republicans steamed this week over an underwhelming midterm performance, Herschel Walker wanted to talk about another subject altogether: vampires and werewolves. “A werewolf can kill a vampire, did you know that?” Mr. Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, asked supporters in an Atlanta suburb, telling a story about a film he had recently watched to make a point about having faith. “I never knew that. So I didn’t want to be a vampire anymore. I wanted to be a werewolf.” With nearly every other midterm election decided, Mr.
Kemp typically would say only that he backed “the entire Republican ticket.” Since Election Day, though, Kemp has turned over his voter turnout operation to the Washington-based super PAC aligned with McConnell. And Kemp plans to campaign with Walker for the first time Saturday.
“Herschel requested all the help we could get from the governor. The governor said I’m there for you,” Paradise said.
Yet the deal between Kemp and the Senate Leadership Fund highlights GOP fissures, some tracing back to Trump, others to a running feud between McConnell and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm.
Kemp built out his independent turnout operation after the 2020 presidential election, when Trump blasted Kemp for certifying Biden’s slate of presidential electors from Georgia and state Republican Party leaders sided mostly with Trump.
SLF, which usually spends most of its money on television advertising, said the runoff would be the first time the political action committee has engaged in a full-scale voter turnout effort.
But, as with Kemp’s reelection campaign, that comes at odds with the traditional coordinated party campaign run through the Republican National Committee, the state party and Scott’s National Republican Senatorial Committee. Separately, Scott challenged McConnell for Senate GOP leader; McConnell prevailed Wednesday.
Pence says he was 'surprised' that Republicans didn't win more seats in the midterm elections
"I would have liked to have seen a Republican majority in the Senate," Pence told host Margaret Brennan on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."During an interview on the CBS program "Face the Nation," Pence told host Margaret Brennan that while he wanted to see larger Republican margins in Congress, a "win is a win.
Campaigning for Walker this week on the outskirts of Augusta, Scott sought to present a united GOP front. “What we ought to be doing now is focusing all of our time on Herschel,” he said.
But he noted that federal election law prevents coordination between the party committees and the SLF-Kemp operation. That means that there’s no legal way for each camp to keep tabs on the other’s activities, raising the prospect of duplicative efforts or conflicting messages to voters.
Meanwhile, Scott's and McConnell's advisers spilled their tiff into public view. Curt Anderson, a Scott ally, noted on Twitter that he’d seen Schumer’s Democratic super PAC airing ads on Warnock’s behalf during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast. “McConnell’s superpac running zero ads attacking Warnock. Have they given up?” he asked.
SLF President Steven Law retorted that the NRSC’s Georgia televisions buys have been subpar. “But don’t worry little buddy — we’re used to covering you,” he wrote. SLF has since announced its own $14.2 million advertising plan, on top of the $2 million-plus it had previously announced for its turnout operation.
Amid such intraparty complications, perhaps the best outcome for Walker is a relatively low-turnout runoff election that allows his core supporters to become a victorious majority. Indeed, having the Senate majority already settled could dampen Democrats’ enthusiasm, and Walker has drawn large, enthusiastic crowds in the opening days of the runoff campaign.
Yet Republicans, including the candidate himself, acknowledge at least tacitly that Walker may need supporters the nominee hasn't won over yet.
Readers who aren't Tennessee football fans weigh in on South Carolina loss. They didn't hold back | Adams
I owe Tennessee football a thank-you. Because of the team's high-profile season, I'm now receiving literary contributions from fans outside Tennessee. © The Associated Press Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne) Missouri and South Carolina fans weighed in this week. But most of my emails came from disgruntled Tennessee fans after a shocking 63-38 loss to the Gamecocks.
For Walker, that means a retooled campaign speech that remains heavy on staunch conservative rhetoric but expands his attacks on Warnock to include an admonishment for not working closely enough with Kemp.
“What he been doing is rowing the boat this way as our governor is trying to row this way,” Walker said of Warnock in Augusta. “What I’m going to do is I’m going to row the boat with the governor.”
For Scott, it means bringing the complexities of Senate rules to the campaign trail, telling voters that a 50-50 Senate means evenly split committee rosters, while a 51-49 makeup means clear Democratic majorities. “It takes 51-plus to get things done,” he said.
And for rank-and-file Georgia Republicans like Debbie McCord, it means cajoling would-be Walker voters to look beyond individual candidates and see a national referendum.
“There are people who just think 'so-and-so would have been a better candidate.’ I say there are a lot of good candidates, but this is who won the primary,” said McCord, chairwoman of the Columbia County Republican committee. “You need to get over it, put your big boy pants on and go vote.”
Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.
Scott Walker says it's 'dangerous' for Trump to attack DeSantis, encourages Republicans to look at a number of 2024 hopefuls .
The former Wisconsin governor says Trump is on "thin ice" when it comes to attacking the Florida governor, a potential 2024 presidential rival."I just think it's dangerous, he's out on thin ice on that one, politically," Walker told Insider during a recent interview just before Trump formally announced his 2024 campaign. "I get that's his style, that's his instinct, it's worked before, it certainly worked in the 2016 primary process, but...it's a really high risk instinct.