Hershel Walker’s success in the upcoming runoff against incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock could depend on Republican celebrities flocking to Georgia between now and Dec. 6, he said. Some Republicans say
Many disagree over whether to include former President Donald Trump, whose status as the party’s anchor is newly under scrutiny amid swathes of the Republican midterm election results.
Eric Erickson, a prominent conservative Georgia radio host who supported Trump’s 2020 re-election, said, “The number one question I’ve been getting since Tuesday night is ‘Would Trump do this? Are you going to ruin it?'” he said.
The former president helped elect Walker, a Georgia football legend and a longtime friend of the Trump family, to the Senate seat last year, but ended up campaigning elsewhere during the general election. Two people familiar with the matter told CNN that they were advised to do so. Some Republicans were annoyed by Trump’s appearance in Georgia, with his two runoff votes in 2021, with Democrats winning both seats to gain control of the Senate. At the time, then-President Trump peppered his campaign speech with false claims that voter fraud was rampant in Georgia and that Republican officials were working against him.
Walker’s supporters feared Trump’s appearance before the midterms would alienate independents and suburban women, key voting blocks in battleground states. Those concerns remain as Walker enters the runoff voting period after neither he nor Warnock received more than 50% of the vote on Tuesday.
Some Republicans in Georgia believe that Trump’s decision to move forward with the start of the 2024 campaign, scheduled for next week, should be of the utmost importance to all Republicans at this point, namely that the party has a majority in the Senate. Mr. Trump’s aides sent out invitations late Thursday to an event in Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 15. The former president, a popular Florida governor and potential presidential candidate who is seeking re-election this week, is hoping to slow the momentum behind Ron DeSantis.
In fact, while debate rages on whether Trump should campaign for Walker in the coming days, several Republicans said they would enthusiastically welcome DeSantis’ appearance.
“Every Republican agent who can enter the state needs to wield Herschel. I think [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin or DeSantis are better suited to the suburban mild Republican or independent demographic that we need to clarify,” said Ralph Reed, president of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
Reed later said he believed Trump would also help boost voter turnout for rural Georgia voters, but warned he was “not talking for the election.” [Walker] motion. ”
“I’ll let them work it out,” he said.
Walker’s campaign manager, Scott Paradise, did not return requests for comment.
A person close to Walker’s campaign said DeSantis would be “a big draw if we got him,” and the Florida governor is just across the border and has been struggling to find a candidate in New York lately. Despite this, he noted that he did not campaign for Georgia governor Brian Kemp. , Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania. Kemp defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams on Tuesday to win his own re-election. And the governor of Georgia has told his allies that he wants to help Walker in any way he can, including campaigning for him.
“DeSantis helps. Jonkin helps. Kemp helps. I think those are the biggest draws to Georgia,” Erickson said.
A Republican familiar with DeSantis’ political activism said it would “depend on what happens in the remaining two races” of senators from Arizona and Nevada. Both elections remain close, but if the Republicans win either election, control of the Senate will shift to Georgia.
“At that point, it becomes the center of the political universe,” this person said.
A spokeswoman for DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment on future travel plans. DeSantis has sided with the Republican Party on a tough battlefield, campaigning for controversial candidates like Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, but the former Heisman Trophy winner’s tumultuous past and personal history are undeniable. He made no such effort to support Walker during the midterm elections, amid headlines about the issue.
Mr. DeSantis, an executive seat in Tallahassee twenty miles from the Florida-Georgia border, also did not participate in the Republican battle in Peach State two years ago.
But a Republican fundraiser close to DeSantis said that if the governor of Florida believed he could help Walker, he would likely travel across the border. Yes, we want the Republicans to win the Senate,” the fundraiser said.
But if DeSantis showed up in Georgia, Trump’s allies said it would be exponentially harder to convince the former president to keep himself out of the state. Much of the frustration of those who want the environment is that Trump continues to hurl insults at DeSantis. “Loyalty and rank” for his refusal to rule out his own White House bid.
The attacks are likely to intensify if a Florida Republican campaigns for Walker, said a person close to Trump.
“Imagine [Trump] I saw Ron campaigning for Herschel and was told, “Stay away.” He’s going to be ballistic,” said the man.
A Trump aide, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said one idea floating around was to get former President Walker to help him financially with a generous check. And Trump’s MAGA Inc. Super PAC had donated $16.4 million to candidates in the final week of the 2022 cycle, securing more than $100 million across the fundraising committee at the end of September.
“He’s looking at ways to save this moment, and one of the ways to do that is by helping Walker win,” a Trump adviser said Tuesday after staggering results for Republicans in Pennsylvania. , referring to the stinging defeat of Mehmet Oz. Trump endorsed him in the Republican Senate primary.
He argued that Trump’s departure from Georgia as the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination suggests that he has a responsibility to the weak, saying, “But if he doesn’t run the presidential race. I don’t think it’s possible to announce and not go to Walker’s campaign,” the person added. Republicans – Toxic message sent at the beginning of the presidential election.
Michael Caputo, an aide to the Trump campaign in 2016 and still close to the former president, said the president’s announcement would likely lead to a surge in Democratic donations to Warnock, so Trump could fund Walker. should do everything possible to procure
“You have to offset that on Walker’s part. From my perspective, the best thing Trump can do is donate to Herschel and raise a lot of money,” Caputo said.
Trump’s political team has been discussing how best to help Walker after it was revealed that the Georgia senatorial race would go to the runoff, two sources said.
“President Trump is 220-16 in the race convened, and with President Trump’s backing, Herschel was forced to take the runoff vote,” Trump spokesman Taylor Gravitch said in a statement to CNN. “Walker is well positioned to win.” .
Much of the sensitivity of Trump’s visit to Georgia stems from the presidential campaign of former Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Leffler two years ago.
On the eve of the 2021 runoff, Trump lashed out at Republican officials across the state for refusing to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, falsely claiming he won the state. and promised to return when Kemp was re-elected to campaign against Republican incumbents. , Trump later achieved that by recruiting Purdue to challenge Kemp in the primary.
Back in Washington, Republicans at the time were deeply concerned that Trump’s focus on election fraud and various attacks on Republican officials statewide would undermine voter turnout among key supporters the next day. I was watching the rally. In the end, both Loeffler and Purdue lost the runoff vote, pushing Warnock and John Ossoff into the Senate, giving the Democrats a narrow majority.
Republicans face the same scenario as in 2021 if Democratic Senator Mark Kelly is re-elected in Arizona and Republican Adam Laxalt fires incumbent Democratic Senator Katherine Cortez Mast in Nevada. This episode is back to haunt Trump because there is a chance, and control of the Senate could be in Georgia. Laxalt now has a very thin lead, according to Friday morning’s poll numbers, while Kelly leads the Republican challenger by more than 100,000 votes. are less concerned, but Republicans are mostly concerned that Trump will eventually pull Walker’s leg this time. Voter Walker must win.
“Herschel needs to do better among Kemp voters and suburban independents,” Reid said. “About 5% of voters who went to Kemp didn’t go to Herschel. He should get more than one of his to his four.”