Walker could win. Unbelievable.
The race for a Georgia Senate seat, a contest between Democratic incumbent Raphael
Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, ought to offer an easy choice.
Warnock is a reliable, honest and hard-working senator who has championed a vast
array of benefits for his constituents. Walker, by contrast, is a lying, hypocritical know-
nothing with a history of violence against women.
Yet, the two men are locked in a tight contest, neck-and-neck in the polls. Even as
reporters have revealed Walker’s many and serious flaws, he has remained a serious
threat to win Warnock’s seat. I find it unfathomable that so many Georgians intend to
cast their votes for Walker, who is astoundingly unfit for any political office — especially
one of the highest in the land.
He can barely put together two consecutive sensible sentences, but he did manage to
clear a ridiculously low bar of expectations at the only debate where he has agreed to
appear. In other words, he didn’t say, in the immortal words of a 1992 vice-presidential
contender, “Who am I? Why am I here?”
But he still gave answers at the October 14 th event that didn’t make any sense. When
Warnock pointed to Republicans’ refusal to cap the price for prescription insulin, which
diabetics depend on, Walker responded: “I believe in reducing insulin, but at the same
time you got to eat right. Because he may not know and I know many people that’s on
insulin, and unless you have eating right, insulin is doing you no good,” adding. It
sounded as though he was blaming diabetics for their illness.
Did his nonsensical answers hurt him with Republican voters? Nope. Neither have
revelations that he has lied about and ignored many of his children, despite giving
lectures about responsible fatherhood. Neither have credible charges that he paid for a
girlfriend’s abortion, despite his support for a strict ban on the procedure. Neither has a
past of domestic violence, including an episode in which he held a gun to the head of
his then-wife. (Law enforcement officials took his threats seriously enough that he was
temporarily banned from access to firearms.)
What gives with his supporters? Well, there is the lasting influence of Donald Trump on
Republican voters. Trump helped to persuade Walker to get in the race and promptly
gave Walker a lift with an enthusiastic endorsement. Walker and Trump have been
friends since Walker started his pro football career with the New Jersey Generals, a
team Trump owned in the short-lived USFL.
And let’s not discount the influence of football itself in the Deep South, where the sport
is practically the official religion. Walker was a Heisman Trophy winner at the University
of Georgia, which made him a legend in the state before his professional career. His
playing days gave him name recognition mere campaign ads can’t buy.
And political prognosticators point to the economic headwinds that all Democrats are
facing — especially rising gas prices — as the main factor lifting Walker’s campaign.
And, during the debate, he did remember his coaching and return repeatedly to that
theme, even as he mangled his sentences. Americans’ insistence on access to cheap
gas is a problem for the planet, but it also defies the marketplace so many, especially
Republicans, claim to believe in.
Republicans claim that fuel would be cheaper if petroleum companies were allowed to
drill for more oil, but that is simply not true. Oil is an international commodity and sold on
an international market. For the past two years, the United States has been a net
exporter of oil — meaning that we sold more abroad than we bought from other
countries. Still, our appropriate refusal to buy gas from Russia since its invasion of
Ukraine has limited supply and pushed prices up.
Petroleum companies, meanwhile, are enjoying the high prices. They posted robust
profits in the last several months, making a healthy recovery from their pandemic-
related losses. If Walker has a way to change that, he hasn’t revealed it.
If Walker wins this race, prices at the pump won’t go lower. But the Republican Party
will continue its decline.