Outside of the red bloodbath of Florida helmed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, election night proved a pittance for the Republican Party. Dr. Mehmet Oz, former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, lost to a barely sentient stroke victim, and the possible pickups of Nevada and Arizona have receded from the GOP’s grasp. Mere hours after conservative pollsters proudly predicted the party would close out the midterm elections with 53 or even 54 seats in the Senate, control of the chamber may yet again come down to a Georgia runoff.
When Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue lost their runoff elections in January 2021, that was a calculated choice, the obvious consequence of Donald Trump lying in service of his own ego that the Georgia elections were stolen. This time, however, Republican prospects are in peril without Trump’s meddling.
For starters, Herschel Walker would head to a runoff election without the significant coattails of Brian Kemp, who won reelection for governor by nearly double digits. Oz suffered the spillover effects of Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. While Kemp’s popularity may have kept incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock from reaching the crucial majority share of the vote this time, in a standalone election, Walker may not be so lucky.
Furthermore, Walker benefited from the distraction of Democrats, who were stuck focusing on flawed candidates across the country. The former football player’s numerous personal scandals, including allegations that he paid for multiple mistresses’ abortions, evaded the spotlight as the media focused on issues ranging from inflation and crime to internecine party warfare. However, for a matter of weeks, Walker v. Warnock would be the only race in the country.
Warnock is hardly purer than the driven snow. Recall that Warnock’s wife alleged that the Democrat reneged on his court-ordered child support and that he ran over her with his car, but Walker is a candidate who has said he wants to ban abortion without exceptions for rape or incest. He’s not just accused of being a philandering deadbeat dad; he’s accused of hypocrisy over one of the most divisive political issues of our time.
It’s possible that the consequences of Democrats controlling the Senate sink in, and Georgia voters ultimately bite the bullet and vote based on party preference rather than personal loyalty. But Walker had ample coattails and limited national attention on Tuesday, and it still seems like he blew it. That doesn’t bode well for yet another risky Republican runoff.