ATLANTA - Herschel Walker officially filed to run for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat as a Republican on Tuesday, according to Federal Election Commission documents.
Walker, a Heisman Trophy winner while playing football at the University of Georgia, has been laying the foundation to potentially run for the seat held by Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock in 2022.
Walker's campaign is yet to officially announce a bid for U.S. Senate.
The move puts an end to the rumors circulating about his political future.
Some political watchers are buzzing in Georgia.
"I tell you what this is a real gamechanger for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate coming up in May," said Phil Kent with InsiderAdvantage Georgia and a Georgia Gang panelist.
Others are taking a "wait and see" approach on Walker’s chances of winning.
"Well I think it’s yet to be seen," said Tharon Johnson, democratic strategist and also a Georgia Gang panelist.
Walker can’t set his sights on unseating incumbent Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock just yet. He has to get through a growing field of Republican candidates in the primary. He not only has name recognition as an advantage, but also the backing of former president Donald Trump.
But, will that only carry Walker so far?
"I think that's where he will struggle. Once he has to articulate where he is around certain domestic issues around covid, around public safety, education, job creation...he has to be able to make a very clear argument why he is the person that Republicans should elect," said Johnson.
"I think when Herschel Walker gets out on the campaign trail and gets to meeting around the state with Republican clubs, with average voters, that's not a problem," said Kent.
A statement of candidacy signed by Walker on Tuesday shows he registered with an Atlanta address and listed Team Herschel, Inc. as his Principal Campaign Committee for the 2022 election.
The Democratic Party of Georgia issued a response to Walker's candidacy:
"Walker’s entrance into Georgia’s chaotic GOP Senate primary is the nightmare scenario that Republicans have spent the entire cycle trying to avoid. By the end of this long, divisive, and expensive intra-party fight, it’ll be clear that none of these candidates are focused on the issues that matter most to Georgians."
Electronic voter registration records show Walker registered to vote in Georgia last Tuesday at an Atlanta house owned by his wife, Julie Blanchard.
Former President Donald Trump has been urging Walker to run for Senate as a Republican against Warnock next year.
Walker played in the U.S. Football League when Trump was a team owner in the 1980s.
"Wouldn’t it be great if the legendary Herschel Walker ran for the United States Senate in Georgia?" Trump wrote in an official statement in March. "He would be unstoppable, just like he was when he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, and in the NFL. He is also a GREAT person. Run, Herschel, Run!"
Walker's Republican primary challengers include Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, former banking executive and Navy veteran Latham Saddler and contractor Kelvin King.
Warnock flipped the U.S. Senate seat — previously held by Johnny Isakson until his resignation in 2019 due to health concerns — in a runoff against Republican candidate Kelly Loeffler, appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp. Loeffler stated in June that she is "not ruling anything out" regarding running for her former seat.
While Walker's campaign has made no official announcement, Walker tweeted a video that fed speculation he would run. Titled "Georgia on mind," the recording shows him revving the engine of a car with a Georgia license plate. "I’m getting ready," he said. "And we can run with the big dogs."
The Republican primary is set for May 24, 2022.
Sen. Warnock is currently uncontested in the Democratic primary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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