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Politics: How did Republicans lose Georgia? Herschel Walker, another Donald Trump-endorsed candidate, flames out

Herschel Walker campaign reacts to major Trump decision

  Herschel Walker campaign reacts to major Trump decision Former president Donald Trump has decided not to campaign with Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker in the final days of Georgia’s runoff election. Walker’s campaign has faced a conundrum of how to handle Trump, who recently declared he would seek re-election as president in 2024. Walker asked Trump to avoid Georgia in the final days Read more The post Herschel Walker campaign reacts to major Trump decision appeared first on The Comeback: Today’s Top Sports Stories & Reactions.

WASHINGTON – Political people can draw lessons both old and new from Raphael Warnock's win over Herschel Walker in the George Senate runoff.

The old lesson: Good candidates generally beat bad candidates.

The new one: Donald Trump-backed candidates tend to have trouble in battleground states.

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"Trump is the big loser," pollster Frank Luntz said in the wake of the Republicans' latest loss in a major political race. "One by one, his handpicked candidates for Senate flopped. I can’t remember a time when the environment for Republicans was so good and yet the results were so bad."

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Herschel Walker holding a sign: Herschel Walker campaigns for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 in Atlanta. © John Bazemore, AP Herschel Walker campaigns for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 in Atlanta.

Nationally, Walker is the latest Trump-sponsored Republican candidate to lose a big statewide race, despite a favorable political environment for the GOP – a warning sign for the party, especially with Trump himself planning to run again for the presidency in 2024.

"It should be a lesson for Republicans," said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, though she wondered if the Republican rank-and-file would pay heed.

"I'm waiting to see if people are more vocal and consistent in how they stand up to Trump when he endorses obviously problematic candidates or makes blatantly unconstitutional political proposals," Gillespie said.

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Georgia Senate Winner: Warnock win gives Democrats 51-seat Senate majority in 2022 midterms overtime battle

'The people have spoken': Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock celebrates Georgia runoff win © Provided by USA TODAY 'The people have spoken': Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock celebrates Georgia runoff win

Walker was a bad candidate

In poll after poll in Georgia, voters who backed Warnock said they simply found Walker unqualified for the Senate and that Trump's support of the former football icon didn't help his cause.

Walker ran at the behest of the former president, who had sought to install like-minded acolytes in Senate, House and governors' offices across the land, with limited success.

Voters rejected Trump-backed, election-denying candidates in presidential battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin – and now Georgia.

There is evidence Walker was a uniquely bad candidate. The first-time candidate made errors and statements that can only be described as odd, such as whether he would prefer to be a werewolf or a vampire. He also told Politico that voters were interested in the runoff  because when "you get the House, you get the committees," even though he was running for the Senate.

Warnock, Walker: Starkly different choices for Black voters

  Warnock, Walker: Starkly different choices for Black voters ATLANTA (AP) — Raphael Warnock is the first Black U.S. senator from Georgia, having broken the color barrier for one of the original 13 states with a special election victory in January 2021, almost 245 years after the nation’s founding. Now he hopes to add another distinction by winning a full six-year term in a Tuesday runoff. Standing in the way is another Black man, Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Both men have common upbringings in the Deep South in the wake of the civil rights movement and would make history as the first Black person elected from Georgia to a full Senate term.

During the general election, two women said Walker paid for them to have abortions, despite his professed desire to ban the procedure. Others accused him of domestic violence and physical threats.

So while Gov. Brian Kemp and other Georgia Republicans in statewide races won reelection last month, Walker found himself relegated to a runoff because he could not pull 50% against Warnock.

BlackPAC, a political action committee that focuses on Black voter turnout, spent at least $2.4 million in the runoff, including on media and digital advertising, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. The group knocked on more than 4 million doors during the Georgia runoff campaign.

"Black voters were very clear that Herschel Walker was not going to be a representative of Black Georgians," said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC. "We heard people talk about the embarrassment they felt in the way that he presented himself."

Shropshire and other experts said Tuesday's election was a "repudiation" of bad candidate quality during statewide elections.

In high-profile Georgia runoff race, Democrats hope to boost their advantage in the Senate

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Trump Republican reversals

Republicans had hoped for Kemp-like success across the country, given an environment that included high inflation, low approval ratings for President Joe Biden and history showing that the president's party tends to do poorly in midterm elections.

Republicans did win control of the U.S. House, but their margin is less than 10 seats.

What to know:5 takeaways from the Georgia Senate runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker

But Republicans actually lost ground in the Senate, thanks to Walker and other  Trump-like candidates such as Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Blake Masters in Arizona.

For the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934, the president's party successfully defended every one of its incumbent Senate seats.

The reason, said many Republicans and political analysts: Trump. Numerous polls in battleground states showed dislike of the ex-president among moderates, particularly in the suburbs. Voters took it out on Trump-endorsed candidates.

"Warnock’s victory was yet another repudiation by moderate Republicans and independents of a poor, unserious candidate foisted upon the GOP by Trump," said Henry Olsen, a polling analyst and senior fellow with the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center.

5 Takeaways From Georgia’s Senate Runoff

  5 Takeaways From Georgia’s Senate Runoff Senator Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in convincing fashion on Tuesday, overcoming a difficult national environment for Democrats and cementing Georgia’s status as the crucible of American politics. © Nicole Craine for The New York Times Herschel Walker, left, came up short in his challenge to Senator Raphael Warnock, whose victory for Democrats signaled that Georgia will remain a crucial battleground state in 2024 and beyond. Mr. Warnock not only gave Democrats some breathing room in a closely divided Senate, but also provided grist for Republicans hoping to dethrone former President Donald J.

While many Republicans blamed Trump, some noted that the GOP leadership was fully on board with many of his candidates, including Walker.

Tanya Washington Hicks, a law professor at Georgia State University, put it bluntly.

"I don't think Walker was competent to be a U.S. senator and clearly, a majority of my fellow Georgians agree with me," she said. "And many of those who agree with me are also Republicans."

'Never stop dreaming': Herschel Walker speaks after defeat in Georgia Senate race © Provided by USA TODAY 'Never stop dreaming': Herschel Walker speaks after defeat in Georgia Senate race

Democrats: Money matters

Democrats said the Georgia runoff is more proof they are the party of the future. They cited an uptick in young voters, in Georgia and throughout the nation, especially over Republican efforts to outlaw abortion after the Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Biden celebrated Warnock's win Tuesday night with a congratulatory call. "Tonight Georgia voters stood up for our democracy, rejected Ultra MAGAism, and most importantly: sent a good man back to the Senate. Here’s to six more years," he tweeted.

There's also the fact that Warnock proved to be a prodigious fundraiser, just as he was in a 2021 runoff in which he defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Warnock raised more than $150 million during the midterm campaign, the most money of all Senate candidates, according to OpenSecrets. Democratic-aligned super PACs came to Warnock's aid, outspending super PACs backing Walker by millions of dollars.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told CNN that all credit is due to Warnock.

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"We love the guy," she said.

Ground game

Georgia-based advocacy groups said their on-the-ground work educating voters on the state's election and early voting laws also contributed to record early-voting turnout in Georgia and more than 3.5 million people casting a ballot in the runoff.

Georgia election law SB 202 shortened the runoff election to four weeks and cut early voting down to five days. Democrats filed and won a lawsuit allowing Saturday voting on Nov. 26, after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office suggested Georgia counties could opt into Saturday voting on Nov. 26.

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Progress Georgia, a coalition of more than 60 advocacy organizations, knocked on more than 5.4 million doors during the runoff campaign. The groups also developed voter guides that educated voters in real time.

"We used updated graphics. We did TikToks," said Ashley Robinson, executive director of Progress Georgia. "We tried to meet people where they were. We did phone calls, text messages, targeted ads and things like that."

Gerald Griggs, Georgia NAACP state conference president, said Georgians, especially Black Georgians, have proven adept at organizing around voting rights.

"We will continue to organize and lift up the voices of the marginalized and people of color," Griggs said. "That's the message of this election. We will out-organize any method to silence us, but we should not have to do that."

What now for the GOP?

Walker's loss is only the latest travail for Trump.

Less than a month after Trump announced he would run again in 2024, Republicans criticized him for hosting a dinner with white supremacists and antisemites. They criticized his suggestion that the Constitution be suspended and he be re-installed as president because of unproven voter fraud.

Marjorie Taylor Greene blames Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell for losing Georgia runoffs and says it's 'extremely insulting' she wasn't used more by Walker campaign

  Marjorie Taylor Greene blames Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell for losing Georgia runoffs and says it's 'extremely insulting' she wasn't used more by Walker campaign Marjorie Taylor Greene told Steve Bannon that it was "extremely insulting" that she wasn't invited to more of Walker's campaign events."This is for Mitch McConnell and 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 during an appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room on Wednesday, per Yahoo News.

Trump also remains under investigation over his handling of classified documents and the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

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Still, the ex-president has lots of money and legions of supporters.

Trump opponents said they wonder if Republicans will heed the warnings of Georgia and other purple states and avoid nominating too-Trumpy candidates, including Trump himself.

Charles Sykes, a conservative commentator and founder of an anti-Trump website called The Bulwark, described the Walker loss as a "cautionary tale" for the GOP.

"Crazy can win primaries, but it’s death in general elections," Sykes said. "Not at all clear that Republicans will actually learn that lesson."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How did Republicans lose Georgia? Herschel Walker, another Donald Trump-endorsed candidate, flames out

Marjorie Taylor Greene blames Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell for losing Georgia runoffs and says it's 'extremely insulting' she wasn't used more by Walker campaign .
Marjorie Taylor Greene told Steve Bannon that it was "extremely insulting" that she wasn't invited to more of Walker's campaign events."This is for Mitch McConnell and 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 during an appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room on Wednesday, per Yahoo News.

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