Walker cancels fundraiser after swastika backlash, but leads Republicans in fundraising
Herschel Walker, former University of Georgia running back who recently entered the race to become the republican nominee to take on Democratic U. S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, is finding out the good, bad, and ugly of running a political race. Since before he entered the race, Walker has been taking incoming fire from other republican contenders vying for the position including Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. He gained a new critic this week in the form of Jewish organizations.
Walker was recently set to participate in a campaign fundraising opportunity in Texas, but abruptly canceled the event after reports surfaced that the host had used a rendering of a swastika as her Twitter profile picture. Walker’s Senate campaign team initially defended the host, Bettina Sofia Viviano-Langlais, a conservative film producer, saying the symbol was not that of a swastika, but “clearly an anti-mandatory vaccination graphic.”
Shortly after they assumed that position, Walker’s campaign team soon abandoned it, saying in a statement that the event at the home of the conservative film producer had been “called off.” The campaign team disavowed Viviano-Langlais’ usage of the symbol and said Walker opposed antisemitism and bigotry “in all forms.”
Political watchers say that Walker learned an important lesson between his first statement and his second, that politics and swastikas do not mix.
Walker’s campaign went on to say, “Despite the fact that the apparent intent behind the graphic was to condemn government vaccine mandates, the symbol used is very offensive and does not reflect the values of Herschel Walker or his campaign.”
Unfortunately, syringes arranged to form a swastika are being used by some opponents of COVID-19 vaccine requirements in Texas. Jewish groups have been quick to condemn the use of the syringe swastika in protests of vaccine requirements, saying “A swastika is a swastika.”
The Atlanta Chapter of the American Jewish Committee’s Dov Wilker said Walker has more work to do. “Walker may have canceled his fundraiser after a sponsor associated with the event displayed the antisemitic symbol proudly,” Wilker said, “But he must condemn Holocaust and COVID health policies comparisons immediately.”
For her part, Viviano-Langlais later removed the symbol from her Twitter profile. Blaming others, she said she made the move “because of the left’s need to silence free speech” and that she did not intend it to be antisemitic.
Whatever the intent, if someone must tell you that a swastika is offensive, you have bigger problems than running for office. Walker and his campaign clearly have some work to do.
Even though they took some missteps in their initial position for that event, Herschel Walker is on the fast track when it comes to collecting campaign contributions. In the five weeks of his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Walker has raised $3.7 million. This number marks the biggest fundraising report yet among Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. Contributions have poured in for the beloved former football star from 50,000 donors across the country. Walker will need that and more as he takes on three fellow Republicans in the race to take on Warnock. They include Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, military veteran Kelvin King, and former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler.
In July, Saddler had about $1.4 million in campaign cash raised; Black had raised about $700,000; and King had raised about $370,000.
Former President Donald Trump is a Walker supporter, who convinced him to enter the race, however, his fellow republican colleagues have signaled that they will not let Walker move forward without a fight. Critics point to Walker’s past violent behavior, lack of political experience and residency in Texas could be enough to trip him up in the race.On the Democratic front, U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock is waiting for the dust to settle as he continues to work in Washington and raise campaign money around the country. Fundraising numbers from July reported more than $10.5 million. Warnock has amassed another record-breaking fundraising haul of more than more than $9.5 million during the three-month quarter, Warnock ended the quarter with about $17.2 million in cash on hand, more than any Georgia U.S. Senate campaign has reported at this stage in an election cycle, with contributions from more than 145,000 donors.