Sports career

Trump-backed Walker builds on athletic career to continue race for US Senate

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (Reuters) – Retired football star Herschel Walker on Wednesday launched a campaign for a US Senate seat from Georgia that relied heavily on his personal rise from poverty to sporting greatness, as well as on his support of former President Donald Trump.

Walker, who has never been a candidate for elected office, will seek the Republican nomination to face Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock’s first term next year. The competition could play a pivotal role in determining whether President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats retain their very slim Senate majority.

His recently unveiled campaign website featured a video that highlighted his athletic achievements but included few political views other than saying, “I believe in a smaller government, a strong army, personal responsibility and ensuring so that all people have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. ” He officially filed documents for execution on Tuesday.

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The website also included a photo of Walker on a stage with Trump, which in recent months has urged him to show up. Walker in the 1980s played for a Trump-owned professional football team.

Walker backed Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud in December and urged Georgian election officials to avoid certifying Biden’s victory in the state.

Walker, 59, released a statement to local media on Wednesday saying his personal successes – from a “poor kid” to a business owner and winner of the 1982 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Georgia, meaning the nation’s outstanding college football player, were examples of an upward mobility in America that he said was fading.

Trump’s backing could deter other Republicans from seeking the nomination, but observers have said Walker could face an uphill battle against Warnock in the November 2022 general election.

“I’m not sure he’s the best Republican candidate to win in November,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said. “If he’s just a football hero from 40 years ago, for part of the electorate it might work well, but swing voters won’t necessarily think that makes you a good senator . “

Walker did not respond to requests for comment.

Democrats applauded his entry into the race, with a major fundraising group for the party, the American Bridge 21st Century Political Committee, predicting a “full wicked primary” on Tuesday after another Republican in the Senate race won. posted a video taunting Walker.

Trump, who has yet to officially endorse Walker, has supported more than a dozen Congressional candidates, including several incumbent Republican candidates who joined Democrats in an impeachment vote on a charge that Trump is said to have instigated insurgency during the Jan.6 U.S. Capitol riot. his supporters.

The former president has a mixed record of the end of the endorsements. A Trump-backed coal lobbyist this month won an overcrowded primary in an Ohio contest for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, a week after his preferred candidate for a Texas seat at the House lost to another Republican.

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Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham

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