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Who is Herschel Walker? Former football star faces Raphael Warnock in Georgia Senate runoff

(ATLANTA) — Republican Herschel Walker hopes to do what former Sen. Kelly Loeffler could not and defeat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a runoff election in Georgia.

Walker, a football legend in the state known for scoring touchdowns in the University of Georgia’s 1980 championship season, will face Warnock in Tuesday’s race after neither reached the required 50% threshold in last month’s general election.

Both the November election and the runoff have seen Walker deny a series of allegations from women, including that he paid for their abortions, which he has said is not true. He is running as a staunchly anti-abortion candidate.

During the campaign, Walker’s past also received new scrutiny, such as resurfaced reports about violence in his first marriage to Cindy Grossman — which he didn’t contest — amid what he said was a struggle with dissociative identity disorder.

Warnock, Walker’s rival in the runoff, was first elected in January 2021 after defeating Loeffler in a previous runoff to serve the remainder of the late Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term when Isakson resigned.

While the outcome on Tuesday won’t determine control of the Senate, Walker could clinch a 50th seat for the GOP and create procedural obstacles for Democrats in the chamber.

Walker entered the Republican primary in the Senate race in August 2021 at the urging of former President Donald Trump, a longtime friend, whose swift support largely cleared the field.

Walker boasts significant name recognition in Georgia from his extensive football career. He was born in Augusta and after emerging as a star athlete in high school, he played football as a running back at the University of Georgia, where he helped win the national championship in 1980 and the Heisman Trophy in 1982.

In 1983, he joined the New Jersey Generals in the now-defunct United States Football League. The team was sold to Trump after the 1983 season.

He was later selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1985 draft and played in the NFL for 12 seasons, including for the Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

Later, he launched a chicken distribution business in 2002.

Despite Walker’s local fame, he has grappled with a series of controversies — and criticism from some in his party — while running against Warnock.

Reports showed that Walker never graduated from college, despite his campaign team stating that he did so, and he never had a formal job with law enforcement after Walker repeatedly suggested he did.

During the cycle, Walker also confirmed he has four children — not just the adult son, social media influencer Christian, whom he has been publicly raising for years, but he insisted he wasn’t hiding his kids from the public.

At a recent rally for Warnock, former President Barack Obama jabbed at Walker’s verbal blunders, such as an unusual riff about vampires and werewolves.

On the trail, Walker has cast some of the most serious allegations as political smears manufactured by Democrats.

At the same time, he has emphasized his Christian faith and belief in “redemption.”

“I’m here to win the seat for the Georgia people because the Georgia people need a winner,” he said in October. “They don’t need the one that we see going on right now.”

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