Herschel Walker’s campaign for Senate in Georgia comes to an end on Tuesday. It’s as of yet unclear whether the former football star will unseat incumbent Democrat Raphel Warnock, but his bid for Congress has been one of — if not the — most chaotic and generally incoherent the nation has ever seen. The Trump-endorsed Republican has been shrouded by scandal, has a deeply concerning history of mental illness and erratic behavior, and has regularly delivered incomprehensible statements about the issues on which he seeks to legislate.
Walker’s campaign has been so unstable that Republicans like Lindsey Graham have often appeared beside him during his media appearances leading up to the runoff — ostensibly to prevent him from further embarrassing himself, as well as to reassure Georgians that yes, the GOP does indeed stand behind this candidate who may not even understand that he’s running for Senate, let alone what the job entails should he win.
Walker’s ignorance is part of the point for Republicans. “Herschel Walker was not nominated to govern,” George Chidi wrote for Rolling Stone last month. “He was not nominated to bargain. He was not nominated to formulate policy. He was not nominated to exercise judgment. He was nominated to mash the R button whenever a vote comes up, no matter what.”
The campaign trail to represent Georgia in the Senate has been a long one with no shortage of headlines. Here’s a quick refresher of what we’ve learned about the former Heisman Trophy winner as voters decide whether he belongs in Congress.
He pressured ex-partners to get abortions despite campaigning as staunchly anti-choice
The Daily Beast reported in early October that Walker paid for his then-girlfriend to get an abortion in 2009, a report Walker denied. The same ex-girlfriend told The New York Times days later that Walker pressured her into getting another abortion in 2011. The woman had a child with Walker, as well. “As a father, he’s done nothing,” she told the Times. “He does exactly what the courts say, and that’s it.”
Then, in late October, another woman accused Walker of pressuring her into getting an abortion in 1993, saying she went to get one but didn’t follow through with it, after which an upset Walker pressured her to go back. “I was devastated because I felt like I had been pressured into having an abortion,” she said in news conference with lawyer Gloria Allred.
Nevertheless, Walker is stridently anti-choice and has equated abortion with murder while on the campaign trail. He’ll be legislating on reproductive issues should he win on Tuesday, which isn’t likely to go well. He said this summer that he thinks states should have the right to set their own abortion laws, and then seconds later said he supported Lindsey Graham’s bill to ban the practice federally.
He repeatedly pushed a bonkers theory about the climate crisis
How to combat the climate crisis is another pressing issue facing Congress. Walker, like the rest of the Republican Party, isn’t interested in addressing it. There isn’t a lot of scientific nuance to his argument against taking action, which centers around the idea that if America “cleans up” it’s good air, it’s just going to float over to China — where it gets dirty again — before returning to America.
“We don’t control this air,” Walker explained during a stump speech in Statesboro. “No matter how much money we put in controlling our air, it goes over to China or to somewhere else, and it messes it up. All of a sudden, it comes back over here. All we’re doing is spending money.”
Herschel in Statesboro:
“Do you know we don’t control this air? No matter how much money we put in controlling our air, it goes over to China or to somewhere else, and it messes it up. All of a sudden, it comes back over here. All we’re doing is spending money.” pic.twitter.com/99Ky0LZLgY
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) July 13, 2022
The comments weren’t a slip-of-tongue or isolated misunderstanding. Georgia’s GPB News in July identified over a dozen instances of Walker trotting out the theory while on the campaign trail.
He suggested the existence of apes disproves evolution
The climate crisis isn’t the only example of Walker’s breathtaking ignorance of basic science. He seemed perplexed about the theory of evolution during an appearance at a church in March. “At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not?” he said. “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”
He said Covid could be cured by a miracle mist
Trump once suggested Covid could be cured by bringing “light inside the body.” Walker has made similarly outlandish claims. “Do you know right now, I have something that [you can bring] into a building, that will clean you of Covid, as you walk through this dry mist?” he told Glenn Beck in the summer of 2020. “As you walk through the door, it will kill any Covid on your body,” he added, claiming the product was “EPA-, FDA-approved.”
Walker added that “they” don’t want the public to know about the miracle spray. The comments were resurfaced earlier this year as it became clear he might have a shot to make it to Congress.
His response to the Uvalde massacre was incoherent
When asked if he would support new gun laws following the school shooting Uvalde, Texas — where Walker lived before and maybe even during his Senate run in Georgia — Walker said he likes to “see it and everything and stuff.”
He elaborated later on Fox News. “Cain killed Abel,” he said. “That’s a problem that we have. What we need to do is look into how we can stop those things … What about getting a department that’s looking at young men, that’s looking at young women, that’s looking at social media.”
He’s told a series of long-winded parables about everything from pregnant cows to why he’d rather be a werewolf than a vampire
Walker has a tendency to ramble, which, combined with his tendency to not make sense, has led to some awkward stretches from the stump. Here’s a story about cows and bulls:
Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker repeats his favorite story about bulls and cows.
The only difference this time is the cows are pregnant. pic.twitter.com/ogJ2NB7SZJ
— The Recount (@therecount) October 11, 2022
Here’s another one in which Walker, talking extremely fast, recounts the plot of a vampire movie he says he watched recently. He first made sure the audience knew that werewolves can kill vampires and that, if given the choice, he’d rather be a werewolf.
“I don’t know if you know, vampires are cool people, are they not?” — Herschel Walker’s speeches are somehow even less coherent than his TV appearances. Like, what it this. pic.twitter.com/nl0UmtKa26
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 16, 2022
Barack Obama mocked Walker’s storytelling during a recent trip to Georgia to campaign for Warnock. “Since the last time I was here, Mr. Walker has been talking about issues of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” the former president said. “This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself … when I was seven.”
He has a long history of abusive and threatening behavior
Walker has talked openly about his struggles with mental health, writing in his 2008 book that he has experienced violent urges. Walker has on multiple occasions described playing Russian roulette, and has also threatened physical harm on those close to him.
The Associated Press uncovered court documents showing that Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman — who filed for divorce in 2001, citing “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior” — in 2005 filed for a protective order against her ex-husband. She claimed Walker was unable to accept that she was dating someone else and started calling her family members. Her sister said Walker threatened to kill Grossman and her new boyfriend, “stat[ing] unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”
The threats continued, with Walker telling Grossman’s sister that he wanted to “blow their fucking heads off.” He also allegedly confronted Grossman at a mall, during which he “slowly drove by in his vehicle, pointed his finger at [her] and traced [her] with his finger as he drove,” according to Grossman.
The protective order was granted, and a judge temporarily banned Walker from possessing firearms. When his book was released in 2008, Grossman elaborated on Walker’s abuse in an interview with ABC News, alleging he held a gun to her head in 2001 said, “I’m going to blow your fucking brains out.”
He’s lied about his academic record, his business record, and … pretty much everything else
The scant few qualifications Walker may have for public office are largely fabrications. The Associated Press reported last summer that despite Walker repeatedly claiming his company employs hundreds of people, brings in $70-$80 million a year, and owns a chicken processing division, none of this is actually true. The company listed just eight employees when it applied for a Covid loan in 2020, and Walker admitted in a court case that the company brings in less than $2 million a year. He doesn’t own chicken processing plants, either; he only licenses his name to them. The Daily Beast reported last month that Walker also lied about owning the nation’s largest upholstery business.
Walker has lied about his academic achievements, as well. CNN reported in April that though Walker has repeatedly claimed to have been the valedictorian of his high school and graduated from the University of Georgia in the top one percent of his class, there’s no evidence either claim is true. CNN points to stories from the time about Walker saying he maintained a B average at UGA, and that he had a 3.0 GPA before his grades began to suffer. He never graduated, though, having left school early to enter the NFL draft.
Walker’s most ridiculous lie, however, may be that Trump has never claimed the 2020 election was stolen. “I’ve never heard President Trump ever say that,” he said earlier this year.
He had secret children
Walker’s capacity to lie is boundless. The Daily Beast reported in June that Walker has a secret son he doesn’t see. He admitted to having more secret children a few weeks later. The Daily Beast reported a few weeks after that that he’d been lying to his campaign about his offspring. It’s not a crime to have multiple children by different mothers, but when you’re a politician campaigning for the U.S. Senate whose talked about how the “fatherless home is a major, major problem” in the Black community, it’s not a great look to be an absentee father yourself, and to then withhold that fact from both voters and your own campaign.
One of Walker’s public children, the conservative influencer Christian Walker, turned on his father after it was revealed that he paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion. “I’m done,” he wrote on Twitter in October. “Every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew (some of) his past. Every single one. He decided to give us the middle finger and air out all of his dirty laundry in public, while simultaneously lying about it.”
“Everything has been a lie,” continued in a video address the following morning: “Family values people: He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values?”The Daily Beast reported last week that several of Walker’s ex-partners have accused him of infidelity and erratic behavior, with one, longtime girlfriend Cheryl Parsa, describing an incident in which he flew into a rage and put his hands on her throat after he caught him cheating on her. She told The Daily Beast that Walker “cannot” be a senator. “He cannot have control over a state when he has little to no control of his mind,” she said.