WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump saddled Republicans with a clearly flawed Herschel Walker as their Senate nominee in Georgia, but in the final weeks before the runoff election, the ex-president has not spent a single dime to help Walker — despite the nearly $100 million of donor money he is sitting on.
Some 100 groups have poured $69 million into the Dec. 6 runoff between Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, according to a HuffPost analysis of Federal Election Commission filings through Thursday.
Ten have spent at least seven figures, led by the pro-Warnock Georgia Honor super PAC with $19.4 million and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund with $15.3 million.
But groups controlled by the coup-attempting former president, who cajoled Walker to get into the race in the first place, essentially clearing the field for the former football star, have not reported spending anything at all — that despite Trump likely having $94 million on hand between his Save America “leadership” PAC and his Make America Great Again Inc. super PAC.
“He’s not going to spend it. He doesn’t care,” said Martha Zoller, a former adviser to Georgia’s popular GOP Gov. Brian Kemp. “People are really resentful of how Trump has handled all of this.”
Trump staff did not respond to HuffPost’s queries.
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker and former President Donald Trump hold a "Save America" rally in Perry, Georgia, on Sept. 25, 2021.
Trump also has not staged a rally for Walker since prior to the Georgia primary in May — leading to a stark contrast between him and former Democratic President Barack Obama, who appeared with Warnock prior to the general election and again Thursday evening, five days before the runoff.
Trump has vilified Obama through the years, beginning with the racist lie that he was ineligible to run for president because he was not born in the United States, and later falsely accusing him of “spying” on him and his presidential campaign.
Informal advisers to Trump, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he likely saw polling suggesting that a visit to Georgia would hurt Walker more than help him because so many Democrats and independent voters despise Trump so intensely. Additionally, a Walker loss would then be blamed on Trump, which would further hurt Trump’s recently announced attempt to return to the presidency in 2024.
Trump, though, has not even reported spending on get-out-the-vote efforts, which would not risk bringing negative publicity to Walker.
“I’m thankful he’s not coming. We don’t need him here,” Zoller said of Trump.
Trump injected himself into the 2022 midterm elections by pushing candidates based on their willingness to spread his lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Those candidates typically won their Republican primaries, but many, particularly those running statewide, lost to Democrats in November. Among them: Senate candidates Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Blake Masters in Arizona, Adam Laxalt in Nevada, and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire; and governor’s race nominees Kari Lake in Arizona, Tim Michels in Wisconsin, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland.
Erick Erickson, a conservative talk radio host based in Georgia, said he’s sensing that Republicans are tired of losing and tired of Trump. “I think more and more of the GOP is starting to move away from Trump after the midterms,” he said. “They ultimately want to win. Trump and his candidates aren’t the winners they claimed to be. So it’s time to move on.”
The midterm losses come just two years after Trump effectively sabotaged both Georgia U.S. Senate seats for Republicans by claiming that the elections in that state were “rigged.” That depressed GOP turnout in the Jan. 5, 2021, runoffs, allowing both Democrats to win and handing control of the Senate to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.
In that election, Warnock won the right to serve out the final two years of Republican Johnny Isakson’s term, after Isakson resigned in 2019, by defeating Kelly Loeffler, who had been appointed by Kemp to serve until the 2020 election.
Tuesday’s runoff will determine who will fill that seat for the next six years.
Trump is under investigation by the Department of Justice for his role in Jan. 6, including the scheme to submit to the National Archives fraudulent slates of electors from states that voted for Democrat Joe Biden as a way to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to award Trump a second term. A separate probe is investigating Trump’s removal of highly classified documents from the White House and subsequent refusal to hand them over, even in defiance of a subpoena.
In addition to the federal criminal investigations, a Georgia prosecutor is looking at Trump and his allies’ attempts to coerce state officials into falsely declaring him the winner in that state.
Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol ― his last-ditch attempt to remain in office ― led to the deaths of five people, including one police officer, the injury of 140 officers and four police suicides.
At rallies and in statements on his personal social media platform, Trump has continued to lie about the election and the Jan. 6 House select committee’s work, calling it a “hoax” similar to previous investigations into his 2016 campaign’s acceptance of Russian assistance and his attempted extortion of Ukraine into helping his 2020 campaign.