A major name could be entering next year’s race for U.S. Senate in Georgia.
Rumors are swirling that Heisman Trophy-winning and University of Georgia legend Herschel Walker may run against Sen. Raphael Warnock, who was elected at the beginning of this year to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Johnny Isakson that ends in 2022.
Walker is a close ally of former President Donald Trump. He even spoke at the most recent Republican National Convention.
Walker has not formally entered the race, but there has been a lot of national speculation he might for months. The most recent hints that the former Heisman winner is considering came in a recent video he posted on Twitter.
Walker is widely considered among the greatest college football players of all time with numerous rankings you can find online ranking him as either No. 1 or 2. His popularity in the Peach State has not waned in the decades since helping deliver UGA its only national championship in football in 1980.
But entering politics does mean some of that luster could erode with certain sections of the electorate.
When News4Jax was in Southeast Georgia speaking with voters about Walker’s potential candidacy, one woman appeared open to him running.
“If he good, he alright,” she said.
But when we brought up his close link to Trump, she put her hand up and abruptly ended the interview.
News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney said Walker is relatively unknown politically and his link for Trump could be politically both positive and negative for him. He likened a Walker candidacy to that of Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Tuberville was a longtime coach at Auburn University who handily won his race for Senate in deep-red Alabama. But Mullaney pointed out that the electorate of Georgia is trending more politically purple and has elected two Democrats in the most recent Senate races and President Joe Biden beat Trump there in the 2020 election.
“His affiliation with Donald Trump means he could be very popular with the base and he could be very formidable in the Republican Primary if chooses to run. However, it’s a double-edged sword when he gets to the general election,” Mullaney said. “The demographics have changed in Georgia.”
Despite that, Walker will benefit from huge name recognition to football fans and UGA fans who may not be as politically minded.
“While a lot of college fans may have forgotten just how good Herschel walker was, University of Georgia fans have not forgotten,” News4Jax sports reporter Jamal St. Cyr said. “When you start talking about the good days of Bulldogs football, Herschel Walker is one of the first guys they’ll mention.”
We’ve reached out to the office of Sen. Raphael Warnock for a response to speculation over Walker’s potential campaign. We will update this article if we get a response.