Heisman Trophy winner and Republican candidate for US Senate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump during a rally at the Banks County Dragway on March 26, 2022 in Commerce, Georgia.
Megan Varner | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Sen. Raphael Warnock will win Georgia’s Democratic Senate primary race, while the Republican nominating contest to pick his challenger was too early to call, NBC News projected Tuesday.
Herschel Walker, the former pro football player and businessman endorsed by ex-President Donald Trump, was heavily favored to clinch the Republican nomination for the Senate seat.
If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the two frontrunners in the GOP primary will compete in a runoff election in late June.
The Republican primary winner will face off in the general election against incumbent Sen. Warnock, who took office last year after winning a special election.
The outcome of the race could tip the balance of power in Washington, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate. The chamber is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, and Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.
Early polls of the hypothetical Walker-Warnock matchup show the candidates virtually tied, according to RealClearPolitics.
The primary races in Georgia, a swing state that narrowly voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, also mark the biggest test to date of Trump’s enduring influence over the Republican Party.
Trump has touted the fact that most of the candidates he endorsed in the 2022 election cycle have won their primaries, though many of those races were not competitive. Fifteen months after his single term in the White House, the former president has held his status as the de facto leader of the GOP.
Many Republican primary candidates have tried to appeal to the party’s base by talking up their pro-Trump credentials, even if the former president did not endorse them. GOP hopefuls in many cases have sought Trump’s favor by embracing the falsehood that the election was stolen from him, raising the prospect that a wave of candidates who spread election conspiracies could take federal and state office next year.
The primary elections will set the table for the November midterms, when Republicans hope to win majority control of the House and Senate. Democrats are fighting uphill: The president’s party tends to underperform in the midterm elections, and the lead-up to the primaries has been marked in part by high inflation and low approval ratings for Biden.
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