Tomorrow – Tuesday, December 6th, 2022, for those reading this in the future – we Georgians have the small matter of a runoff election for U.S. Senate. The incumbent Democrat, Raphael Warnock, faces former UGA football hero Herschel Walker, and Mr. Walker’s nomination as the Republican candidate has faced no small amount of criticism, not just from Democrats, but from many of his fellow Republicans. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan recently told CNN that he found himself unable to vote for either candidate.
I’m not unsympathetic to my fellow Republicans who struggle with the idea of voting for Herschel Walker. It’s fair to say that his victory in the GOP primary was due far more to his sky-high name recognition as one of the most famous football players in Georgia history than his political background or credentials. Walker is a first-time candidate with no previous significant political involvement. Beyond that, his personal history is, as the kids say these days, problematic.
Walker has been public about his struggles with mental illness, including times during which he acted violently. He has been accused of paying for abortions for two of his girlfriends, which he has denied. His campaign stump speeches have often veered quite far afield from relevant issues. He’s avoided most direct media contact and all but one debate during the general election, and his campaign has been lighter than most on policy questions. He’s been a resident of Texas in recent decades and has been accused of still being a resident of Texas due to claiming a homestead exemption there*. And of course, he was endorsed by Donald Trump, whose hold over the Republican Party is something that an increasing number of voters are looking to move beyond.
If any or all of those reasons are enough for you not to vote for Herschel Walker, I understand. I didn’t vote for him in the primary this year, and if I’m being perfectly honest, he’s not who I’d prefer to vote for tomorrow. So, instead, here is how I’m going to vote.
I’m going to vote for a divided Senate that provides equal representation for Republicans and Democrats on committees, and can block the Democrats’ most extreme policy plans with the help of Sens. Manchin or Sinema. I’m going to vote for Georgia having Senate representation that much more closely matches its red/blue split than having two Democrats represent us for the next four years would. I’m going to vote for paying attention to issues like inflation and crime instead of deflecting or ignoring them because they make the President look bad. I’m going to vote for federal representation for the majority of the state who just elected Republicans to every statewide office. I’m going to vote for someone who will be beholden to Georgia voters instead of out-of-state donors.
I can name plenty of other people who might accomplish all the above better than Herschel Walker. But none of those people will be on the ballot tomorrow. The only name on there other than Walker is Raphael Warnock, and we already know he won’t do any of those things.
If, like me, you’re not comfortable with voting for Herschel Walker, I suggest ignoring the names on the ballot, and voting for all those other important issues. My mother, who was born and raised in south Georgia, often used the phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” when I was growing up. Staying home, or casting a protest vote for Raphael Warnock, won’t punish the Georgia GOP, or primary voters, or Trump, or whomever one wants to blame for Walker being the Republican candidate. It’ll only punish Georgia and Georgians. Choose wisely.
*-“A homestead exemption can be a factor in determining state residency, but it isn’t the sole factor”, says the AJC – but that was when Democratic U.S. Representative Lucy McBath had her Cobb County exemptions revoked for living in Tennessee. GOP candidates do not receive the same magnanimity from the media.