Has Herschel Walker's staff turned on him?

AP Photo/Butch Dill, File

If Republicans blow this Senate seat in a 50/50 state in a year when a red tidal wave is soon to crash down in House races, it’ll be the greatest political own-goal since they nominated Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.


Not quite that bad, to be clear. O’Donnell was a nobody who stood no chance in a state as blue as Delaware. Whereas Herschel Walker is so well-known and beloved in Georgia that he’d stand a chance of winning even if he were weighed down by all the baggage in the world.

Unfortunately, he is weighed down by all the baggage in the world. I think he’s a slight favorite in a cycle where a generic Republican nominee in Georgia would be a solid favorite.

This Daily Beast piece is thinly sourced, based on the account of one “closely connected advisor” and a series of “communications” provided by the source which the story never quotes from, supposedly because doing so would reveal who the source is. But GOP consultants one and all are reading through it this afternoon and nodding grimly, as it jibes with all of the knocks that were made on Walker before he announced. He’s erratic, having once been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder; he’s not fluent with policy issues; he has a recurring problem telling the truth about his own past.

Maybe he’ll win anyway. If the host of “The Apprentice” can be president, Georgia’s greatest football star can be senator, no? But even if he wins, you’re left to wonder if he’s fit for office in any way apart from his high name recognition.


Nominally the piece is about Walker allegedly having lied to his own aides when they approached him about whether he had any secret children. No, he told them — at which point they reportedly produced paperwork proving that he had a 10-year-old, causing him to ‘fess up. But that was the only one, he assured them. Then the press found evidence of more children.

Lying to your own campaign is as foolish as lying to your own lawyer. The better informed an advocate is, the less risk there is that they’ll be surprised while defending you. But one can understand why Walker might have fibbed: He may have been embarrassed by elements of his private life, hoped that the press wouldn’t find out about his other kids, then was forced to admit the truth when they went digging.

What’s alarming in the story is the possibility that that the episode with the children is just one small problem among many that speak to his basic fitness.

“He’s lied so much that we don’t know what’s true,” the person said, adding that aides have “zero” trust in the candidate. Three people interviewed for this article independently called him a “pathological liar.”…

“A campaign’s worst nightmare,” the source said. “It’s like a shitshow on a train in the middle of a wreck.”…

Aides have secretly derided Walker for months, according to the person and internal communications seen by The Daily Beast. They have ridiculed his intelligence. They fear his mood swings and instability. And staffers worry he could embarrass himself at any moment, setting the campaign back yet again and burning energy on damage control.

The overriding concern is that the stress and pressures of campaigning—criticism and backlash in particular—might make him “just not mentally stable,” the source said.


His staff is doing their best to keep his public appearances as scripted as possible and restricting him to interviews with Republican-friendly outlets like Fox, although even those have been known to take a turn when he gets a question for which he wasn’t prepared. Raphael Warnock’s team has been asking for three debates this fall, believing that’s their best chance to convince Walker fans that he’s not cut out for the job, no matter how fondly they may remember him from his playing days. Walker’s team is reportedly hoping to do just one debate instead and “only if it is on their terms” in order to limit the risk of a catastrophic answer in an unscripted moment.

Even so — in this national environment, with Walker’s celebrity, amid a populist moment in which not knowing much about policy but disliking all the wrong people is enough to make you viable as a statewide candidate, I’d put him as a 60/40 favorite to win. In fact, it sounds like the Daily Beast’s source also thinks Walker is likely to win and is leaking in part because he’s alarmed that voters are preparing to send a candidate who isn’t up to snuff to the Senate. It’s half-leaking, half-whistleblowing.

Which is nice. But we’ve spent the past five years having people close to Trump warn Republicans that he’s unfit for office, a parade that continues to this day, and he’s still the heavy favorite to be nominated for a third time in 2024. Having the “establishment” claim that you’re dangerously nuts has become something of a badge of authenticity for populist candidates.


Besides, in spite of everything, Walker’s not the weakest candidate on the Senate ballot for Republicans this fall. This guy is:

Mehmet Oz is trailing in polls. A key Republican has yet to endorse him since the celebrity doctor won the GOP nomination for Pennsylvania Senate more than a month ago. And Oz has gone dark on the airwaves since May 21 — even as his Democratic rival John Fetterman burnishes his brand on TV as a political outsider, and paints Oz as a carpetbagger from New Jersey…

“I don’t have much confidence in their campaign,” said Arnie McClure, chair of the Huntingdon County Republican Party. He said he’s been in contact with Oz’s team but hasn’t received answers to multiple queries.

“[Oz] came in a distant third in my county, so I called them up and said, ‘You need to talk to our people to change their mind and our mind and I’ll help you do that.’ And I don’t even hear back. What the hell?”

Oz isn’t running ads and Fetterman isn’t campaigning. It’s the most low-energy race I’ve ever seen despite the fact that the outcome may well determine who controls the Senate.

I’ll leave you with this. Hoo boy.


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