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BRIDGES: Will Herschel run away with GOP nomination?
Chris Bridges
Chris Bridges

Back during his glory years on the gridiron, Herschel Walker routinely ran away from defenders.

Now years removed from his playing days, Walker still may be about to run past his opponents in the upcoming May Republican primary for US Senate.

Walker doesn’t just have the lead in primary polling. His lead borders on mind-boggling.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Walker polled 81% among likely GOP primary voters. His closest competitor was current state agriculture commission Gary Black with 6%. The next candidate had 2%with everyone else at 1%.

It goes to show how much name recognition will do for you. Walker is an icon in the state even though it has been decades since he led the University of Georgia to the national championship in 1980.

His professional career has been complete for a long stretch as well but he remains so popular that his full name is not needed when talking about him. Just say “Herschel” and everyone knows.

Of course, popularity doesn’t mean one will make a good U.S. senator. It doesn’t mean Herschel wouldn’t be a good one but his campaign likely wouldn’t be gaining so much traction without his previous icon status in the state.

Herschel also has an advantage, as if he needed another one, in being the preferred choice of Donald Trump. The former president is still very active in politics and his support is actively sought by many GOP primary candidates.

One has to wonder what Black thinks about this. In any other campaign he would likely be the front-runner. Black has drawn positive reviews during his time as agricultural commissioner and he entered the U.S. Senate primary long before Walker.

Ironically, Walker’s campaign appearances, as few as they have been, are met with curiosity. Even die-hard Republicans say Walker doesn’t appear to be a seasoned campaigner (which he is not) but they have also admitted how underwhelming his events are.

In a general election poll, Walker held a one-point lead against Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock. Walker was at 49% with Warnock close behind at 48. 

That lead is certainly within the margin of polling error and most expect the winner to hold a razor-thin margin.

Much more competitive is the GOP primary for governor. We’ll look more at that race next time.

Chris Bridges is sports editor for The Walton Tribune.