Herschel Walker defeated five other candidates in Georgia’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate on May 24, 2022. Walker received 68% of the vote, and Gary Black was second with 13%. Before the election, Walker, Black, Kelvin King, and Latham Saddler led in fundraising and media attention. Josh Clark and Jonathan McColumn also ran.
Walker was a professional athlete and Olympian and worked for a number of food-supply businesses. Former President Donald Trump (R) appointed Walker as chair of the Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition in 2018. Walker said his campaign was about “saving our country and the great state of Georgia from President Biden’s disastrous agenda which has led to higher prices, out-of-control crime, dangerous open borders, and ‘America Last’ foreign policy.” Trump endorsed Walker in September of 2021, and Walker also received endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and evangelist Franklin Graham.
At the time of the election, Black was Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture. Black worked as a cattle rancher and held positions in the Georgia Farm Bureau and Georgia Agribusiness Council. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate to take America back! We need our government to focus on its fundamental responsibility — not the change to the foundations of our country being pushed by Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden,” Black said. Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R) endorsed Black.
Before the primary, NPR’s Domenico Montanaro said, “Walker, a former Heisman-winning University of Georgia Bulldog who has Trump’s endorsement, may have high name identification in the state, but he’s untested as a candidate. Walker has written about his battle with dissociative identity disorder and is facing allegations of domestic abuse from past relationships and that he exaggerated his post-football business success.”
Black challenged Walker’s electability based on past allegations of domestic abuse, saying, “Folks, he can’t win in November. The baggage is too heavy. It’ll never happen.”
Responding to critics of Walker’s electability, campaign representative Mallory Blount said, “Their only strategy to gain any sort of relevance is to obsess over Herschel. Herschel is solely focused on beating Raphael Warnock.”
At the time of the primary, the Cook Political Report rated the general election a Toss-up, meaning ratings indicate that neither party has an advantage.