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Herschel Walker may need help from top GOP officials in runoff race: Analysis

The GOP candidate faces Sen. Warnock again

ATLANTA — Republican Herschel Walker and Democrat Raphael Warnock are headed to a U.S. Senate runoff in December. Walker may have reinforcements who steered clear of the former football star during the fall campaign.

Though they campaigned separately this fall, Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to try to lend some of his popularity to Walker. Walker could certainly use Kemp’s help in the runoff. He led a slate of Republicans that won statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor, and six other positions with an average margin of about 7.3 percent– more than a quarter million votes in each race.

All those Republicans outpolled Walker– who lagged behind Warnock by less than a percentage point.

"You know, I think a lot of Republicans like me are waking up this morning going, what could have been? What could have been, if we’d picked a better candidate that would have won with a margin like Brian Kemp?" Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan told a CNN interviewer Wednesday.

Duncan lamented the runoff and the GOP candidate in it. Walker, a retired football star, ran for the U.S. Senate after former President Donald Trump urged him to do it. The two have been friends for decades. Trump steered clear of the general election in Georgia– but could try to give Walker a runoff nudge.

"Any runoff is going to be a nervous moment for both the candidates involved in the thing," said State Senate Republican leader Mike Dugan, a Walker backer who declined to weigh in on a possible Trump visit on Walker’s behalf. 

However, Duncan, who was critical of Trump’s effort to overturn the presidential election, told CNN that Walker is better off without the former president.

"I can’t imagine anyone would think Donald Trump would be a tailwind to Herschel Walker’s campaign in a runoff scenario. I can’t see anyone making that calculus except one person, and that’s Donald Trump," Duncan said.

Duncan said Georgia Republicans would have been better off nominating a U.S. Senate candidate without Trump's input. 

"I think Donald Trump is moving from a movement to a distraction for the Republican party now," he said.

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