While it came as no surprise that Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024, it may be raising some eyebrows at Herschel Walker‘s campaign as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia prepares for his runoff election next month.
Trump’s announcement came as the Republican Party powers that be appear to be increasingly distancing themselves from the twice-impeached president who is also facing major legal problems on the state and federal levels. Considering that Trump hand-picked Walker to run for U.S. Senate, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he will try to come to Georgia to campaign for the upstart politician who has gained more notoriety for his verbal gaffes and personal turmoil than any policy he supports.
If Trump does choose to rally for Walker, political operatives think that could only hurt Walker.
“I hope President Trump has a great time at Mar-a-Lago. And I believe that he will stay there, and I believe that he should stay there,” Cole Muzio, president of the Georgia-based conservative political advocacy group Frontline Policy Council, told the New York Times.
One Republican strategist suggested that Trump do any campaigning beginning after the runoff election.
“It’s best for the 2024 cycle to begin after the 2022 cycle, which isn’t over until Georgia says it is,” Brian Robinson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The Republicans’ best chance is to keep this a referendum on Joe Biden’s record — a message that Herschel has stuck to with discipline.”
On the flip side, Warnock can only be helped by Trump rallying for Walker in the Peach State.
From the New York Times:
Also weighing on Republicans’ minds are Georgia’s changing demographics, which have put the state in play for both parties. The former president’s presence is a guaranteed animating force for Georgia’s ultraconservative voters, whom Mr. Walker will need to turn out en masse on Dec. 6. But it could also alienate swing voters and moderates in Atlanta’s suburbs who were turned off by the candidate’s scant political experience and myriad personal scandals.
To be sure, even before Trump made his announcement, Georgia Republicans sought to keep him away from Georgia once it was determined the Senate race would advance to a runoff election.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee that works to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate, previously deflected questions about the implications of Trump campaigning fin Georgia or Walker.
“That’ll be a decision between Herschel and Trump. I know that Trump wants to be helpful to make Herschel win. That’s an issue for the campaign. I don’t get to participate in those decisions,” Scott told NBC News last week.
Ralph Reed, president of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative group based in Georgia, suggested Walker’s candidacy would be better off without Trump’s direct involvement. He proposed having someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an emerging Trump rival, campaign instead would be more helpful in getting Walker elected.
“We need every Republican surrogate we can get into the state to put their arm around Herschel,” Reed told CNN last week before Trump’s announcement. “I think that [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin or DeSantis is a better fit for soft Republicans or independents in the suburbs that we need to turn out.”
Eric Erickson, a conservative radio host based in Georgia, agreed with that sentiment.
“DeSantis would be helpful. Youngkin would be helpful. Kemp will be helpful. I think those are the biggest draws in Georgia,” he said.
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