Even in a campaign filled with head-spinning news, the latest revelation is a shocker: Herschel Walker, who has spoken out repeatedly against absentee dads, fathered a son who he financially supports but doesn’t see.
Court records obtained by the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show the child’s mother sued Walker in 2013, a year after giving birth, to obtain a declaration of paternity and child support. The child is now 10 years old. The story was first reported in The Daily Beast.
It’s the latest in a spate of controversies that have dogged Walker in his campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock that could decide control of the chamber. Walker has falsely claimed that he worked in law enforcement, asserted that he graduated from college when he has not, exaggerated his business record and made bizarre statements promoting a purported coronavirus cure.
On Wednesday, Walker’s campaign sought to downplay news of a second son.
“Herschel had a child years ago when he wasn’t married,” Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise said in a statement. “He’s supported the child and continues to do so. He’s proud of his children. To suggest that Herschel is ‘hiding’ the child because he hasn’t used him in his political campaign is offensive and absurd.”
Walker frequently mentions his 22-year-old son, Christian, on the campaign trail and in interviews but has apparently never indicated publicly he had a second child. The AJC is not naming the child or the mother to protect the child’s privacy.
As recently as last month, Walker has criticized fathers, particularly in the Black community, who have abandoned their children.
“I tell people this, I say, ‘I want all African Americans out there to know, even though you may leave the mom, don’t leave the child,’ ” Walker said in an interview with Atlanta rapper Killer Mike.
“Continue to be a dad,” Walker said. “Continue to be a strong figure in that child’s life.”
Warnock has also had child support and custody issues with his ex-wife. In a legal filing earlier this year, Ouluye Ndoye sought to obtain more child support because Warnock’s income has increased. She also wants additional custody of their two children so she can spend time outside the state to complete a program at Harvard University. Warnock and Ndoye co-parent the children.
The latest disclosure gives Republicans who lamented Walker’s breeze through the primary more cause for concern. As one senior Republican strategist said, Walker has “more baggage than Hartsfield-Jackson Airport” between his lies, exaggerations, history of violent behavior and blunders on the campaign trail.
But will it matter in an election that could be decided on pocketbook issues? Each time Warnock and his allies use Walker’s controversial actions and puzzling statements against him, his campaign shifts the focus to President Joe Biden, whose flagging approval ratings threaten to weigh down Democrats.
A recent 30-second digital ad from the Walker camp sums up the Republican’s strategy with a flash of bold letters on the screen: “If this campaign is about the issues, Warnock will lose.”
Ed Henderson is a Republican activist in Rabun County and an officer with the local GOP who supported a no-confidence resolution after Walker refused to engage in debates or take questions from voters at town halls during the primary. Walker’s lies and hypocrisy continue to worry him.
“But with all of the concerns I have, I’m still confident he won’t be as bad or do nearly as much harm as six years of Raphael Warnock,” Henderson said. “To me, it’s the economy and the fragility of where we are at now. Biden has already caused enough harm. And Warnock allows Biden to do more harm.”
He said he’s viewing his vote as one for a “Republican Senate” rather than for Walker.
Ed Lindsey, a former Republican state legislator who supported former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler in the Senate GOP primary, predicted the November race will be less about Walker’s past transgressions and more about Warnock’s alliance with Biden.
“People are going to fall back on whether they like President Biden or his agenda. And for most voters, that’s going to trump everything,” he said.
But Democrats need look no further than Walker’s rambling answer on gun violence for evidence that it won’t be easy for him to pivot away from his past and toward issues.
“He really hasn’t indicated that he has any interest in substantive policy discussions on any issue, whether it’s the economy, education or gun violence,” said state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Smyrna Democrat. “The lies may cause more issue-minded Republicans to skip that race, if not cross party lines and vote for Warnock.”
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