Associated Press: Walker puts GOP in “Holding Pattern” while Loeffler Floats “Running Again”

June 28, 2021

The Georgia GOP’s Senate frustrations are mounting as Herschel Walker — Trump’s close friend and hand-picked candidate for U.S. Senate — continues to put the Republican Senate primary in a “holding pattern,” while failed politician Kelly Loeffler met with Mitch McConnell about “running again” — developments that are making key in-state “power players worried.” 

In case you missed it, read more on Georgia Republicans’ Senate headache below:

In Georgia, Herschel Walker puts GOP in a holding pattern
Bill Barrow, Associated Press

Key points: 

  • The recently ousted former senator who wants her job back. A football hero considering his first run for office. Little-known politicians eyeing promotions. And a former president overshadowing them all in a state he lost last November.
  • Republicans’ U.S. Senate nomination in a premier battleground like Georgia is a plum political prize, but a year before GOP voters choose a nominee for the 2022 midterms, they have no clear options. 
  • Walker, who has joined in Trump’s false assertions that the 2020 election was fraudulent, has stoked chatter about a Senate bid for months and discussed the race with national party leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, head of the GOP’s Senate campaign committee.
  • But the mere possibility of him running is enough to leave other would-be candidates in a holding pattern in a state where Democratic victories in 2020 highlighted Republicans’ narrow margin of error.
  • The GOP bench most notably includes former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost to Warnock in a January special election runoff, and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a four-term congressman from near Savannah who has never run statewide.
  • Eric Tanenblatt, a top national Republican fundraiser and a principal at the law firm Dentons, called the GOP indecision “unfortunate.”
  • [Walker] has not set up any visible political operation in Georgia, and it’s still not clear he’s re-established residency in his home state. He had no presence at the annual state Republican convention or district and county conventions earlier this spring, leaving some Republicans frustrated.
  • “You’ve got to get out there and meet people, and it takes time to do that” in an expansive, populous state, said Jack Kingston, a former south Georgia congressman and 2014 Senate candidate. “Republican primary voters get mad easily if you don’t come to their events, even if you’re Herschel Walker.”
  • Loeffler, who had been the Senate’s wealthiest member, has traveled the state since her defeat to pitch her new political organization, Greater Georgia. She bills it as a conservative retort to Democrat Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight group.
  • The former senator also met recently with McConnell to talk about running again. A Republican close to Loeffler described the conversation as encouraging and suggested McConnell is intrigued by Loeffler’s ability to self-fund. The Republican spoke on condition of anonymity to speak frankly about Loeffler’s plans.
  • To be sure, national Republican leaders are not clamoring publicly for a Walker candidacy. 
  • Then there are the worst-case scenarios some Republicans muse about privately: Walker could simply wilt under the pressures of a nationalized campaign. 
  • “This whole thing just captures the issue for Republicans right now in Georgia,” said Lake. “We have a whole lot of Republicans who love Donald Trump and everyone who supports him. And we have a faction that just wants to move on. To win, we have to get those two groups to vote for the same person without realizing it. Can Herschel Walker or anybody else do that?”


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