Ex-football star Herschel Walker wins Georgia GOP Senate nomination

Former University of Georgia football standout and pro-football running back Herschel Walker easily won the Republican Senate primary in the Peach State on Tuesday, lining him up to take on incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock in November. 

Walker defeated six other GOP candidates, including state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. The AP called the race an hour after polls closed. 

Walker had 70.4% of the vote with 16% of precincts reporting.

Walker, who won the 1982 Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in America and helped the Bulldogs to the national championship as a freshman in 1980, was the heavy favorite to win the primary after securing endorsements from both former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“Herschel Walker is a friend, a Patriot, and an outstanding American who is going to be a GREAT United States Senator,” the 45th president wrote in a glowing endorsement one week after Walker entered the race last summer. “He embodies ‘America First’ and the winning spirit of Georgia.”

Fans of Walker hold up signs at a rally on May 23.
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Walker speaks at a rally as former President Donald Trump looks on.
Walker secured an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

Walker, 60, grew up in Wrightsville, Ga. but had not lived in the state for more than 30 years at the time he announced his run. He registered to vote in Georgia only days before he launched his campaign. 

The football star has been close with Trump for decades, with their relationship going back to when Walker played for the Trump-owned New Jersey Generals of the old United States Football League. Walker has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s political ambitions and repeatedly endorsed the former president’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen through voter fraud.

From 1985 to 1997 he played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

Early in the primary, some Georgia GOP operatives expressed concern about Walker’s lack of political experience as well as his history of domestic violence. In 2005, Walker’s ex-wife secured a protective order against him, alleging threats and controlling behavior.

Walker plays with putting a hat onto his former coach Vince Dooly's wife Margaret Dooly at a rally.
Walker plays with putting a hat onto his former coach Vince Dooly’s wife Margaret Dooly at a rally.
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Herschel Walker, center, during his heyday at UGA.
Herschel Walker (center) won the 1982 Heisman Trophy playing for UGA.

In his 2008 memoir, Walker revealed he had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder seven years earlier.

The Walker-Warnock race is expected to be a close and well-funded contest as both parties see it as a key to control of the Senate next year.

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