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The GOP dealt conservative Georgia voters a dud with Herschel Walker

The Republican Senate candidate hardly comes with a résumé you would look for if you identify as a Christian-values voter.
U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker speaks to media at a campaign event on Sept. 9, 2022 in Gwinnett, Ga.
Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for the Senate in Georgia, speaks to media at a campaign event in Gwinnett County on Sept. 9.Megan Varner / Getty Images file

The bold way that the GOP — the pro-life party — continues to support Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who allegedly urged an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion and paid for the procedure, is eyebrow-raising to say the least. 

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NBC News that he’s “proud to stand with Herschel Walker and make sure Georgians know that he will always fight to protect them from the forces trying to destroy Georgia values and Georgia’s economy, led by Raphael Warnock.”

For true evangelical Christians in Georgia, there is a much better, if not rather obvious, alternative to Walker in this year’s race: the incumbent senator, Warnock, who is the lead pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta

But surely conservative voters must have figured out by now that the GOP has dealt them a dud of a candidate. Less than a month away from Election Day, it’s likely a difficult realization.

However, it’s not the first time Walker has been involved in a deal in which he has failed to live up to expectations.

I am a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, which means I am a glutton for punishment and everlasting disappointment. And having Walker thrust back into the national news cycle this past week has elicited something akin to PTSD in me and likely countless other Vikings fans, regardless of their political leanings.

As most NFL fans know, Walker was at the fulcrum of what is generally considered the most one-sided trade in the history of the league, or perhaps, as many sports writers have conjectured, the worst deal in all of sports history.

In case you aren’t a sports fan or are too young to remember the infamous “Walker Trade” or, as ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary film has dubbed it, “The Great Trade Robbery,” here is what you need to know: In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys dealt Walker, the star Georgia running back, to the Vikings. Dallas, in exchange, received a bounty of Minnesota draft picks spanning several years, including several immensely valuable first-round picks — ones that ultimately set up the Cowboys for the dominance they enjoyed in the league throughout the 1990s. Meanwhile, up in Minnesota, Walker turned out to be a complete flop who wasn’t even with the team after two seasons; far more problematic, however, was the high price paid by the Vikings that set back the team’s prospects for a decade or even longer. If you are an ardent Vikings fan, the Walker trade was a raw deal that still stings to this day.

But now, in 2022, Walker is at the center of another raw deal. This time Georgia voters and perhaps the entire country are on the receiving end, as there are far greater consequences at play, including control of the Senate and the possibility that a woman’s right to choose may be at risk on a national level.

In this lopsided trade, it’s former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party attempting to present Walker as a Senate candidate with deeply held anti-abortion convictions to conservative Georgia voters. But as we have seen in the near-endless stream of credible reporting and allegations that have surfaced in the past week, Walker’s purported anti-abortion beliefs strain credulity. Walker has denied the allegations, which were first reported by The Daily Beast, but it’s hard for many people to believe someone who has been proven to be a fibber

Worse yet, his constant ramblings on the matter make it clear that he has neither the temperament nor character to become a senator. Once again, just like in the Dallas trade to Minnesota decades ago, Walker isn’t living up to his billing and will surely disappoint Georgia’s Evangelicals, who have rallied around him.

Walker has said he supports a total ban on abortion with no exceptions, likening it to murder. “There’s no exception in my mind,” he said back in May. “Like I say, I believe in life. I believe in life.” But allegations surfaced that Walker encouraged the same woman from The Daily Beast report to get an abortion not once but twice, according to The New York Times

Like a tawdry episode ripped from the world of reality TV, this latest series of bombshells comes on the heels of an array of other damning allegations that have popped up since Walker put his hat in the ring to become a senator. 

In the aggregate, a picture is emerging of Walker as abusive, a womanizer and an absent father who has several children with different women and encouraged one of them to have an abortion twice. This is hardly the résumé you would look for if you identify as a Christian-values voter who cares about character and is morally opposed to a woman’s right to choose.

Yet many of Walker’s conservative supporters have opted to turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy. They seem to see the former football star as nothing more than a means to an end — regaining control of the Senate and the chance to invoke a national abortion ban. “I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate,” said former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch in a recent tirade as allegations of Walker’s support of his ex-girlfriend’s abortion came to light. “If The Daily Beast story is true, you’re telling me Walker used his money to reportedly pay some skank for an abortion, and Warnock wants to use all of our monies to pay a whole bunch of skanks for abortions,” Loesch continued. 

Most amazing to me in this story is that, for true evangelical Christians in Georgia, there is a much better, if not rather obvious, alternative to Walker in this year’s race: the incumbent senator, Warnock, who is the lead pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Although he believes in a woman’s right to choose, Warnock is a man who wears his deep-rooted Christian beliefs if not on his sleeve, then literally on his pastor’s robe on Sundays. 

According to a Survey USA poll of likely voters, conducted Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, Warnock leads Walker 50% to 38%. Although the poll was conducted before The Daily Beast bombshell, Warnock’s lead should be even higher, given Walker’s dumpster fire of a campaign from the beginning. Warnock not having a bigger lead speaks volumes about the grip the Republican Party has on Christian Evangelicals in this country. It says even more about how divided we truly are as a nation — where seemingly no amount of facts or evidence can loosen many religious conservatives’ embrace of Trump and the MAGA movement.

 Unlike the 1989 infamous Dallas-Minnesota deal in which the Vikings legitimately believed that trading for Walker would earn the team a trip to the Super Bowl, Georgia Evangelicals already have enough evidence to know that Walker isn’t the man he pretends to be. Those on the Christian right should fully understand that they are getting a raw deal in the character of the man they hope represents them in Washington, but that’s obviously not what this is about.

If Evangelicals truly wanted someone who reflected their Christian ideals more broadly, Raphael Warnock would be a much more suitable choice. But that’s not a trade they’re willing to make.