Former University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker has filed to run for U.S. Senate in Georgia, becoming the most prominent Republican to line up to challenge incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.).
Walker, a Texas resident, was long rumored as a potential candidate and was heavily lobbied by former President Donald Trump to move to Georgia and run for Senate. Earlier this month, Walker registered to vote there, leading many to suspect that an official announcement of his candidacy was imminent.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that Walker filed with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday. A public statement announcing his candidacy is expected within days.
Trump was an early supporter of Walker for Senate, saying in March he would be "unstoppable" as a candidate.
But some state Republicans have expressed concerns that Walker, as a political outsider who has never run for office, may not be ready or able to defeat Warnock, who is the top-fundraising politician in the United States. As of his most recent FEC filing, Warnock has raised more than $34 million and is sitting on a formidable war chest of $10.5 million cash on hand. The Democratic pastor from Atlanta has earned a national reputation as a champion of election reforms favored by progressives, fueling his popularity on the left. He will be a top target for Republicans and a priority for Democrats to defend in the upcoming midterm elections.
Walker, 59, will have high name recognition in the state as a Heisman Trophy winner and star running back for Georgia Bulldogs, and a 12-year career in the NFL. But his political inexperience and unknown positions on the issues are giving some state conservatives pause.
Also, both Walker's Republican primary opponents and Democratic opposition researchers will make an issue of his struggle with mental illness. Walker has been open about his battle with dissociative identity disorder, writing about how his illness has impacted his personal life and contributed to suicidal thoughts in his 2008 book, "Breaking Free: My Life With Dissociative Identity Disorder."
A recent Associated Press report dug into Walker's past and unearthed public records about his business dealings and his divorce with ex-wife Cindy Grossman that were previously unreported.
"The documents detail accusations that Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife's life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior," the AP reported. Walker did not respond to the AP's request for comment on the report.
Walker is already under attack from at least one primary opponent. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black released an ad in early August painting Walker as a carpetbagger. He further said in a statement that Walker should "Move here, pay taxes here, register and vote in some elections and learn what Georgians have on their minds," if he wanted to run for Senate. His comments followed a Washington Examiner report that before 2020 Walker had not voted in any election since 2003, including the 2016 presidential election.
Military veteran Kelvin King, a black surrogate for Trump, and former Navy SEAL and Trump administration official Latham Saddler are also running in the Republican primary scheduled on May 24, 2022.