As Slate’s Jim Newell wrote last week, the most recent polling news out of swing states, as far as Republicans hoping to retake the Senate are concerned, has been pretty good. That’s been particularly true in Nevada and Wisconsin, with a side of long-shot hope in Pennsylvania.
Here’s the name of a state in which the next few rounds of polling may not be as good for the Republican Party: Georgia. The “Peach State.” The home of … let’s see, the Atlanta Falcons and Delta Air Lines. And also the longtime home of a no-exceptions-for-anything, it-is-literally-murder-to-have-an-abortion “pro-life” Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker, who, according to some pretty well-sourced reporting the Daily Beast published Monday night, actually paid for a woman to have an abortion after the two conceived in 2009.*
What do we mean by “well-sourced”? The Beast’s Roger Sollenberger describes speaking to the woman in question (whose name is not used in the piece) and says she supported her claims with “a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic, a ‘get well’ card from Walker, and a bank deposit receipt that included an image of a signed $700 personal check from Walker.” The get-well card is posted on the site, and its signature appears to match others known to be the former football star’s.
Sollenberger also writes that the woman’s account was corroborated with a friend who she said had helped take care of her while she recovered. The article also includes this true-to-life-seeming detail about the difference between the cost of the procedure and the amount of the check:
The woman said there was a $125 difference because she “ball-parked” the cost of an abortion after Googling the procedure and added on expenses such as travel and recovery costs.
It’s hard to trust Google results these days! In any case, you are encouraged to click through and read the Beast’s entire piece, which includes the woman’s explanation for coming forward and a rather surprising detail about what the Walker campaign was after when it made recent efforts to contact her.
It was the Beast, and Sollenberger, that also launched what had previously been the most damaging bombshells of the Georgia election cycle: consecutive reports in June that Walker, who has made his name as a conservative figure in part by attacking the purported lack of responsibility demonstrated by absentee Black fathers, had fathered three more children than he had previously acknowledged in public—making for a total of four children by four women.
Walker has also been exposed during the campaign for having made unequivocally false claims about being a police officer, an FBI agent, a valedictorian, a college graduate, the founder of a charity for military veterans, and the founder of the largest minority-owned food-supply and upholstery companies in the United States. (Will “Slick Willie” politicians ever stop exaggerating their accomplishments in the upholstery market?)
Which is to say, while any one scandal might not be insurmountable for a given candidate, particularly one who is, like Walker, endorsed by Donald Trump, he does not exactly have a robust account of trust and goodwill to draw on with potential swing voters. He’s polling seven points worse than Georgia’s incumbent Republican governor at the moment, according to the Real Clear Politics average. He also responded to the Beast’s report by calling it a “flat-out lie” and promising to sue the publication, a tactic which is basically an invitation to the press to keep looking for new details about the story. (Regarding the signed get-well card, Walker told Fox News: “I send so many get well [cards], I send out so much of anything, but I can tell you right now I never asked anyone to get an abortion, I never paid for an abortion.”)
The denial also provoked Walker’s one previously known child, a social media personality named Christian who is otherwise an ardent MAGA right-winger, to, well, lose it:
The younger Walker’s allegation about domestic violence has been previously aired by his mother, Cindy Grossman, who is divorced from Herschel Walker. She told CNN in 2008 that the now-candidate had held a gun to her head “a handful of times” and threatened her on other occasions with knives and a razor. (Herschel Walker told CNN at the time that he has dissociative identity disorder and does not remember threatening his ex-wife.)
For those who may be wondering, Georgia law does not allow parties to replace candidates on the ballot should they withdraw from a race for whatever reason, such as secret children and secret abortions, with fewer than 60 days remaining before an election. Election Day 2022 is 35 days away. They’re stuck with this guy—and so GOP insiders, it appears, are already searching for scapegoats to blame if Walker does indeed lose the race (which polls suggest is still close, despite this parade of scandals). Scapegoats like … Christian Walker?
Ah, yes. Obviously, he’s the problem here.
Correction, Oct. 5, 2022: This post originally stated that the Daily Beast published its Walker story on Tuesday night. It was published Monday night.