What do Donald Trump and former Georgia Bulldogs football star Herschel Walker have in common? They have both lied about being successful businessmen, abused women (though Walker's abuse is more lethally menacing in nature), and brought the GOP establishment to heel.
Senate Republicans’ No. 2, John Thune of South Dakota, is reportedly set to endorse Walker Monday in his 2022 bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia. Thune will be the first member of the Senate GOP leadership team to embrace Walker, Trump's handpicked candidate who has relocated from Texas to Georgia to make the run. In a statement to Politico, Thune called Walker “a fighter, a uniter, and a proven winner."
Walker does appear to be a "fighter" all right, who repeatedly bullied and threatened the life of his former wife Cindy Grossman, according to allegations in hundreds of pages of court documents. Grossman filed for divorce in 2001 and in 2005 secured a protective order against Walker, claiming he had exhibited violent and controlling behavior.
According to reporting from the Associated Press in July:
Grossman has said she was long a victim of Walker’s impulses. When his book [Breaking Free] was released, she told ABC News that at one point during their marriage, her husband pointed a pistol at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” She filed for divorce in 2001, citing “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.” ...
In an affidavit, [Grossman's sister Maria] Tsettos claimed Walker once called looking for his ex-wife while she was out with her boyfriend. Tsettos took the call and said Walker became “very threatening” when told of Grossman’s whereabouts. In Tsettos’ recollection, Walker “stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”
Walker, who is 59, has been open about struggling with mental illness and specifically being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as causing multiple personalities.
In his 2008 book, Walker details having violent urges to kill people—in one instance, driving around suburban Dallas seeking to hunt down and murder someone who was late delivering a car he had purchased. Walker wrote that while one side of him knew it wasn't a viable course of action, "another side of me was so angry that all I could think was how satisfying it would feel to step out of the car, pull out the gun, slip off the safety, and squeeze the trigger.” Walker ultimately didn't follow through. The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that men with dissociative identity disorder “exhibit more violent behavior rather than amnesia.”
Much like Trump, Walker has also lied about his business successes while running a chicken company called Renaissance Man Food Services. According to the AP, Walker has claimed repeatedly in interviews that "his company employed hundreds of people, included a chicken processing division in Arkansas and grossed $70 million to $80 million annually in sales."
But that's not what the company claimed when seeking a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan last year and receiving roughly $182,000 in pandemic relief funding. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.) According to those filings, his company employed just eight people. In a recent court case, Walker himself said the company averaged about $1.5 million a year in profits between 2008 to 2017.
The GOP's preternatural propensity to cave to the whims of Trump is legend by now. Over the summer, Senate GOP establishment types were trying to kill Walker’s candidacy before it got off the ground at the urging of Trump.
“Some of it’s pretty bad, obviously: physical abuse and pulling a gun on his wife, if that’s true,” Sen. John Cornyn told Politico in July. “I want to win that race. And to the extent that he’s handicapped by some of these things that would make that unlikely, I’d prefer to have somebody else.”
Thune himself was tepid on Walker at best over the summer.
“As a candidate you have to be able to respond to hard questions," Thune said, noting that one's background often "becomes an issue." Thune added, “Sometimes people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it’s not as easy as it looks.”
But summer Thune is at odds with fall Thune. And standing right next to fall Thune is fall GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who not so long ago predicted that Trump was a “fading brand.” Fall McConnell told Politico last month that “there's every indication [Walker's] going to be a good candidate.”
Fascinating. Remember, McConnell is supposedly laser-focused on winning and has said the only reason he would tangle with Trump is if he elevates a candidate who hurts the GOP's chances of retaking control of the upper chamber.
Except, well, when McConnell just surrenders to Trump and settles for a candidate who probably has more baggage than even Trump himself does—and that's saying something.
Senate Republicans appear to be holding out hope mainly based on Walker's Q3 fundraising total of $3.7 million and the fact that he is reportedly assembling a staff of "seasoned operatives."
Of course, Democratic Sen. Warnock has consistently posted whopper quarterly fundraising numbers, including adding $9.4 million to his war chest in the third quarter.