Oct 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Herschel Walker's ticking time bomb

Herschel Walker speaks to a press gaggle

Herschel Walker addresses reporters last month alongside former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty

Public attacks from Herschel Walker's son have drawn fresh attention to fears about his troubled past that many Republicans have privately shared since the beginning of his candidacy for U.S. Senate in Georgia.

Driving the news: "You have no idea what me and my mom have survived," Christian Walker, a 23-year-old conservative influencer, posted in a viral video Tuesday. "We could have ended this on Day One."

The big picture: While the last 24 hours have been brutal for Walker — with some conservatives questioning whether this will be the end of his campaign — it's still unclear how much of an impact the latest allegations will have at the ballot box.

  • Leading Republicans, from the Senate GOP campaign chief to abortion leaders and former President Trump, rallied behind Walker on Tuesday after a detailed Daily Beast report alleged Walker paid for a then-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 — a contention Walker vehemently denied.
  • They promised to keep cash flowing to his campaign — hoping to soften the panic that spread among conservatives Monday night.

Why it matters: A Walker victory in Georgia is crucial to Republicans' chances of retaking the Senate majority.

Between the lines: What top Republican groups failed to address in their statements of support are the new attacks from Christian Walker, whose popular social media feeds are otherwise littered with praise for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and criticism of "leftists."

What they're saying: "I stayed silent as the atrocities committed against my mom were downplayed. I stayed silent when it came out that my father, Herschel Walker, had all these random kids across the country, none of whom he raised," Christian Walker said in his video.

  • "And you know my favorite issue to talk about is father absence. Surprise! Because it affected me. That's why I talk about it all the time," Walker continued, excoriating supporters of his father for preaching "family values."
  • "All of this has been a lie and you've known it. You've known."

What we're hearing: Top GOP operatives have been monitoring Christian Walker’s videos for months now, nervously hoping that his generalized pleas for men to be better fathers wouldn’t turn into specific comments about his own absent and allegedly menacing dad.

  • But Christian Walker rejected the notion he was to blame for the firestorm: "Don't put this on me. This is a candidate issue. Not a me issue. I wouldn't have spoken out if there weren't all these lies every day."

Georgia-based conservative commentator Erick Erickson told Axios: "Republicans can dismiss the Daily Beast as a liberal publication. They can't dismiss Christian Walker as easily … particularly because Christian had been perceived as supporting both Trump and his dad, and now clearly doesn't."

  • "That was what sent Republicans into a frenzy. Last night, I probably got two dozen text messages, and all of them came after Christian Walker's tweet and all of them were linking to his tweet. I didn't get a single text message from anyone referencing the Daily Beast," Erickson added.

What to watch: Polling averages in Georgia have shown a consistent split-ticket dynamic with the Senate and gubernatorial races, owing in large part to candidate quality.

  • Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is projected to win by five points over Democrat Stacey Abrams, while Walker has remained in a statistical tie with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
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