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BRIDGES: Will Herschel get away with the GOP nomination?

Back in his glory days on the gridiron, Herschel Walker regularly shunned defenders.

Now a long way from his playing years, Walker may still be on course to overtake his opponents in May’s upcoming Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

Walker isn’t just leading in the primary polls. His lead borders on breathtaking.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Walker polled 81% among likely GOP primary voters. His closest competitor was the current National Board of Agriculture, Gary Black, with 6%. The next candidate had 2% with everyone else at 1%.

This shows how good name recognition will do for you. Walker is an icon in the state, even though it’s been decades since he led the University of Georgia to the national championship in 1980.

His professional career has also been complete for a long time, but he remains so popular that his full name is not necessary to talk about him. Just say “Herschel” and everyone knows it.

Of course, popularity doesn’t mean you’ll make a good US senator. That doesn’t mean Herschel wouldn’t be good, but his campaign likely wouldn’t gain as much traction without his previous icon status in the state.

Herschel also has the advantage, as if he needs another one, of being Donald Trump’s preferred choice. The former president is still very active in politics and his support is actively sought by many candidates in the GOP primary.

You have to wonder what Black thinks about it. In any other campaign, he would probably be the frontrunner. Black drew positive reviews during his tenure as agriculture commissioner, and he entered the U.S. Senate primary well ahead of Walker.

Ironically, Walker’s campaign appearances, rare as they are, arouse curiosity. Even diehard Republicans say Walker doesn’t seem like a seasoned activist (which he isn’t), but they’ve also admitted how disappointing his events are.

In a poll for the general election, Walker held a one-point lead over incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock. Walker was at 49% with Warnock just behind at 48.

That lead is certainly within the polls’ margin of error and most expect the winner to hold a very slim margin.

The GOP primary for governor is much more competitive. We will look more at this race next time.

Chris Bridges is a sportswriter for The Walton Tribune.