POWDER SPRINGS — Texas and South Carolina senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham joined Herschel Walker to rally in Cobb County this week, making the case for sending the football great to the U.S. Senate. The three men, joined by Lt. Gov.-elect Burt Jones, spoke to a crowd of several hundred outside the Governors Gun Club in Powder Springs.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, received 1,946,117 votes (49.4%) to Walker’s 1,908,442 votes (48.5%) in the general election. Neither candidate cleared the 50% threshold, triggering the runoff. The Libertarian candidate, Chase Oliver, took 81,365 votes (2.1%).
Why it matters
The media, Cruz said from the stage, want to convince Republicans that it doesn’t matter if they turn out to vote. Cruz said he wished this race could deliver Republicans a Senate majority next year, but it wouldn’t. And while he was upset about that, Cruz said the time to fix that is in two years.
“Right now, we’re going to decide whether the Senate stays 50-50 or whether the Democrats get 51 Democrats,” Cruz said. “Let me tell you what happens if they get 51 Democrats. No. 1, they get a majority on every single committee. That means they can accelerate, they can expedite their agenda, including radical left-wing judges to take away our free speech, our religious liberty and our Second Amendment.”
There’s also Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who Cruz said wants to end the filibuster, something Schumer’s been unable to do while Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin oppose the move. If Warnock beats Walker, however, Schumer would be closer to that goal, Cruz said.
“And I believe if that happens that Schumer will lean on Manchin, and Manchin will fold.”
With the filibuster gone, Cruz said Democrats would try to strike down every “election integrity law” in the country, “register millions of illegal aliens,” strike down photo ID laws and mandate that all criminals can vote.
“You can actually understand the latter because, after all, they got to take care of their base,” he said.
Rowing in the same direction
Graham, who earlier in the day testified before a Fulton County grand jury examining whether former President Donald Trump sought to illegally overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, asked the crowd how many of them voted for Gov. Brian Kemp in the general election.
The crowd cheered.
If they voted for Kemp because they believe he has Georgia on the right track, Graham asked, why vote for Warnock? The senator compared it to two people in a row boat rowing in opposite directions.
“How about Herschel being in the boat rowing for Georgia? You’ll be in France in about an hour,” Graham said with a laugh. “It would be crazy in my view for the state of Georgia to elect a conservative governor and send one of the most liberal people to Washington to represent you. That makes no sense. We figured that out in South Carolina.”
Schumer, Graham continued, said this week that a 50-50 Senate would slow him down.
“Here’s my message: Let’s slow Schumer down,” Graham said.
The South Carolina senator said it’s tough being a conservative, arguing that everyone is against them and tries to marginalize them.
“How about being a conservative like Tim Scott and Herschel Walker? You know why they’re coming after him so hard? They’re afraid of him. This is a liberal nightmare. To have an African-American conservative representing the state of Georgia — that would inspire people all over this country to look at the Republican Party anew,” he said.
It’s not about one seat in the U.S. Senate, Graham said.
“This is about the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. And the most intolerant people in America are liberals. When it comes to what they can do to us there are no rules. It doesn’t matter what they do to conservatives. They get away with it because the media never holds them accountable,” he said, invoking the treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. Graham said the left is trying to smear Walker the way they attacked Kavanaugh.
“Georgia is going to have Herschel’s back. You’re not going to let them do to this good man what they want to do, which is destroy him,” Graham said.
After the rally, the trio sat on stage and were interviewed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity from his studio.
How did Kemp escape a runoff?
The MDJ asked Cruz why he thought Kemp was able to beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in the general election, but Walker and Warnock ended up in a runoff.
Kemp defeated Abrams with 2.1 million votes, or 53.4% of the vote.
“Well, look, I’ll say one big difference is that Raphael Warnock spent $100 million attacking Herschel Walker,” Cruz said. “This race has been ugly. It’s been nasty.”
Who in their right mind, Cruz asked, would step forward to run for office knowing he and his family would be dragged through the mud with $100 million spent against them? It would be one thing if the job was a promotion for Walker, Cruz said, but it’s not, given the fantastic life he’s lived.
“I got to say I really admire the selflessness. He knew they would come after him. And part of the reason they come after him is that the Democrats despise an African American who dares speak out against the left-wing socialist agenda,” Cruz said.
Cruz said the left also despises Hispanic people who do the same, something he understands as the son of a Cuban immigrant.
“But there is a particular degree of racist hatred the left has for a strong Black man who stands up and says ‘I believe in free enterprise. I believe in safe communities. I believe in securing our border.’ The left has attacked him viciously in a way that they certainly haven’t attacked Brian Kemp, but I do think at the end of the day people vote their values, and Georgia is a state where common sense conservative values continue to be what the people of Georgia believe,” Cruz said.
Georgians, Cruz said, want low taxes, low regulations and lots of jobs. They want safer communities, a secure border and support for law enforcement and the military.
“It says something that the Republicans who Herschel Walker would stand with are eager to be here, because those are the policies Georgians want, and the Democrats who Raphael Warnock stands with are hiding,” Cruz said, noting how Joe Biden has not come to Georgia to campaign for Warnock.
The Texas senator said that Warnock’s ads featuring puppies disguise his agenda.
“He’s running ads in Georgia talking about a highway bill he did with me. Now what does that tell you when both Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock are campaigning on working with me in the Senate? The difference is Herschel will stand with the people of Georgia and stand and fight for common sense conservative principles, and Warnock in two years has been the most liberal left-wing senator in the entire U.S. Senate. That’s not Georgia. That’s not the values of Georgia,” Cruz said.
For his part, Walker said he was up for the challenge of taking all the negative attacks, calling Warnock a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” who in the pulpit argues that the nation ‘’needs to apologize for its whiteness.” Walker invoked the Bible, saying a house divided cannot stand, adding God doesn’t know skin color, but what’s in one’s heart.
“We’re all a family here,” Walker said. “Don’t listen to Sen. Warnock talking about your color. You know they’ve been calling me names, can you believe that?”
Walker said a racial slur was recently used against him.
“Y’all saw that. Oh yes they did. I couldn’t believe it either,” he said.
What they don’t know, Walker said, is that he’s from the country.
“I’m saying a coon is one of the smartest animals out there, so if you’re going to call me something, call me by something that is going to hurt my feelings,” he said. “What hurt my feelings is crime in the streets. What hurt my feelings is high gas prices. What hurt my feelings is what you’re trying to bring into my school to hurt my kids. What hurt my feelings is to have this border wide open. So call me names that you want to call me. What I want you to do Sen. Warnock is be a good senator, which you haven’t been that either, so it’s time for you to get out of there.”
Predicting the winner
Kerwin Swint, director of the School of Government and International Affairs at Kennesaw State University, said that even if it sounds like a cliché, the race hinges on who can get their supporters to turn out.
There’s a couple different ways to look at it, Swint said. One is that all statewide Republicans won in the general election except Walker, who got about 200,000 fewer votes than Kemp.
“So clearly there were a lot of people, a lot of Republicans, a lot of independent voters who voted for Brian Kemp, didn’t vote for Herschel either. Either they voted for Warnock or they just didn’t vote in that race. Left it blank. Or maybe the Libertarian. Who knows. Thing is though, those 200,000 voters, there’s a chance a lot of those don’t vote again. They may not come back and vote in this runoff. That could be to Herschel’s benefit.”
Another way to look at it is how Warnock has vastly outspent Walker and looks to do so again in paid advertising. Swint said he didn’t know how the Republicans were faring in their get-out-the-vote effort, but said much has been written about how Kemp’s voter turn out operation has been turned over to Walker’s people.
“If Brian Kemp is going to actively campaign for Walker in the next couple weeks, that could help certainly because Brian Kemp is the most popular politician in Georgia. So that could help. It could be really close again,” Swint said. “So he can do it. I won’t be surprised if Walker wins. But they’ve really got to get that get-out-the-vote operation going. And they know that. They know what they’re faced with.”
Either way, it’s too unpredictable to forecast a winner, Swint said.
“They both have advantages and depending on how things break they could both have a path to winning,” he said.
Among those in attendance at the rally was GBI Director Michael Register, who lives in the area and said he stopped by at the invitation of the gun club owners to hear what was said.
“I wanted to listen, but I’m certainly happy that we have candidates that support the military and the police strongly, and it appears that Herschel Walker does that,” Register said.
Cobb GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs, who was also in attendance, said the biggest takeaway for her was how important this election is, not just to Georgia but to the country.
“What is at stake is reinforcing Biden’s agenda with Warnock or choosing freedom and the ability to bring stability to inflation and to stop Biden’s reckless spending,” Grubbs said. “We have got to have representation in the Senate who will vote with the rest of the Republicans to stop the insane spending and nationwide policies that are just affecting everyday Georgians.”