Former NFL star Herschel Walker is running for Senate as a Republican in Georgia, kicking off what's been a long-anticipated — and, in some GOP corners, feared — candidacy.
Walker established Team Herschel Inc. as a principal campaign committee Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission.
The move allows him to begin raising money for a 2022 Senate race that will be among the most competitive in the country. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, won the seat in a special election earlier this year, helping his party gain control in an evenly split chamber where Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote.
Walker, a longtime Texas resident and who recently registered to vote in his native state of Georgia, confirmed his intentions Wednesday to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Our country is at a crossroads," he told the newspaper, "and I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore."
Walker added: "In the United States Senate, I will stand up for conservative values and get our country moving in the right direction. It is time to have leaders in Washington who will fight to protect the American Dream for everybody."
Former President Donald Trump has been the biggest champion of a Walker campaign. A Heisman winner at the University of Georgia, Walker played for the United States Football League team Trump owned in the 1980s before moving to the NFL.
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the legendary Herschel Walker ran for the United States Senate in Georgia?” Trump said in a March via email, his primary way of communicating with the public since being banned from social media networks. “He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, and in the NFL. He is also a GREAT person. Run Herschel, run!”
Trump has taken an outsized interest in Georgia, which he lost narrowly in 2020 and where he has raged at Republican officeholders, including Gov. Brian Kemp, for not rigging the results in his favor. Trump is already backing a primary challenger against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Several other Republicans have already entered the Senate race, including Gary Black, the state’s elected agriculture commissioner, but none has Walker’s star appeal or direct line to Trump.
"Herschel, welcome back to Georgia, welcome to the U.S. Senate race," Black said in a video posted to Twitter. "I suppose I've always wanted an autograph, but there are some things that are far more important now — the future of our country, the future of our families. So I wanted to invite you to a discussion about this."
But other Republicans expressed concern about a Walker bid following an Associated Press report last month that dug into his past, including accusations that he threatened to kill his ex-wife, citing court records and documents. (Walker and his long-time attorney did not respond to requests for comment, according to the AP.)
“This is about as comprehensive a takedown as I’ve ever read,” Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist close to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted in response to the AP story. “My lord.”