Georgia GOP shoots itself on foot over Walker campaign with ill-fated election law change

Republicans were hoping to steal away the overall Senate majority from the Democrats by securing the seat for their controversial candidate, Herschel Walker. Mr Walker on Tuesday was defeated by Reverend Raphael Warnock, who contested the seat after a special election in 2020, by 51.4 percent to his 48.6 percent. Before the vote, local GOP representatives suggested a change in election law Georgia Republicans ushered in themselves could influence the final results.

Following Joe Biden’s victory against Donald Trump in the last presidential election, Georgia’s GOP politicians introduced bill SB 202, later having it signed into law as the Election Integrity Act of 2021.

In addition to changing the overall management of the election in the state, the new bill cut the deadline by which voters could request a mail-in absentee ballot – moving it from 180 days before the election down to 11 weeks.

The main takeaway of the new legislation was a change to how runoff elections are carried out, leaving political activists with a shorter timeframe in which they can win over potential new voters.

Rev Warnock’s supporters had nine weeks between Election Day on November 2020 and the new vote on January 5, 2021 to push Georgia residents to head back to the polls and to get new voters registered to cast their ballots.

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SB 202 however reduced the nine-week period to only 28 days, which created a challenge for Republicans to sell their Hershel Walker, whose campaign was marred by a swathe of scandals, to the public.

Jason Shepherd, the former chairman of the Cobb Country Republican Party, admitted the GOP had shot itself in the foot by cutting down the time available to mount a successful campaign.

Mr Shepherd told The New York Times: “We almost need a little bit more time for Herschel’s campaign to get everything off the ground.

“I think we’re behind the eight ball on this one.” has contacted the Georgia Republican Party for comment.

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Mr Walker has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Media consultant Rick Dent said: “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Herschel Walker might be the most flawed Republican nominee in the nation this year.”

Voting went smoothly despite some cold, rainy conditions in some parts early Tuesday.

Stephanie Jackson Ali, policy director for the progressive New Georgia Project Action Fund, said the group had seen few issues around the state, with lines advancing and equipment issues being addressed promptly.

Voting Tuesday in Atlanta, Tom Callaway praised the Republican Party’s strength in Georgia and said he’d supported Kemp in the opening round of voting.

But he cast his ballot for Warnock because he didn’t think “Herschel Walker has the credentials to be a senator.”

Mr Callaway said: “I didn’t believe he had a statement of what he really believed in or had a campaign that made sense.”

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