Herschel Walker and his wife wanted to court Black voters in the Georgia Senate race, per Politico.
Julie Blanchard Walker said Walker should’ve been getting robust Black support, per the report.
An individual close to the campaign told Politico that her idea morphed into an “obsessive focus.”
This year’s Georgia Senate race was unique in that it featured two Black major-party nominees — Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker — for the first time in state history.
And throughout the contest, which was fought in a midterm election year among two high-profile candidates with sharply divergent views on virtually every key issue, the importance of the Black vote in Georgia remained front and center.
Black Georgians make up 33% of the state population and in a good turnout year, Black voters — the most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party — generally comprise of roughly 28% to 30% of the overall electorate.
So with Walker’s candidacy, many Republicans thought that Walker’s candidacy would help them make inroads among Black voters in the state, as he had built-in name identification from the 1980s as a star football player at the University of Georgia before heading off to the NFL.
Throughout the GOP Senate campaign, Walker and his wife — Julie Blanchard Walker — wanted to visit Democratic-leaning parts of the state to court Black voters, but staffers instead wanted the Republican to focus on boosting turnout among base voters — a strategy that they later emphasized after Walker was forced into a December runoff without GOP Gov. Brian Kemp at the top of the ticket, according to Politico.
Politico described Walker and Blanchard Walker as not fully having the ability to steer decision-making for the campaign, as the pair reportedly questioned the strategies put forth by GOP operatives and spent “excessive” periods of time going over proposals before planned campaign stops.
Walker staffers told Politico that Blanchard Walker floated the idea that Walker should have been earning up to 50% of the Black vote in the state — which would have represented an unusually high share of the vote for a Republican candidate. One staffer told the news outlet that Blanchard Walker repeatedly stated that her husband needed “to be getting him in front of his people, in front of his community.”
“She thought we should be getting amounts of African American voters that no Republican in the history of modern politics has ever gotten,” an individual close to the campaign told Politico. “And that became an obsessive focus.”
The biggest complication in the efforts by the Walkers to engage with Black voters? Warnock, the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, had deeply-rooted connections in the Black religious community and with Black voters in general — and their support wasn’t going to be easily transferable.
The senator’s 2021 runoff victory was fueled by robust turnout by Black voters, notably in the metropolitan Atlanta area, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, and in rural parts of the state where Democrats had previously faltered in turning out the vote. And he campaigned extensively in those areas throughout the entire campaign, while Walker’s overall campaign strategy targeted conservatives and the state’s rural evangelical community.
In last month’s general election, when Warnock edged out Walker 49.4%-48.5% statewide, the incumbent senator won 90% of the black vote, compared to 8% for Walker, according to CNN exit polling.
Walker sought to make inroads among the electorate in the diverse Atlanta suburbs during the runoff campaign, but by the time early voting started in November, Warnock had already locked the support of most of those voters — and the senator’s victory on Tuesday revealed the extent of his gains across the state relative to last month’s contest.
Read the original article on Business Insider