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Herschel Walker Is Target of Ad on Domestic Abuse Accusations

ATLANTA — In his Senate campaign, Herschel Walker has not hidden his past struggles with mental illness and violence in past relationships, aspects of his background that he outlined in a 2009 memoir and which his campaign tried to address in the early days.

Now a group of anti-Trump Republicans is hammering him on one of those episodes.

In a new ad on major networks in the Atlanta media market, footage of Mr. Walker scoring a touchdown for the University of Georgia is interspersed with close-up videos of his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, describing how he once held a gun to her temple and threatened to pull the trigger.

“Do you think you know Herschel Walker?” asks a narrator. “Well, think again.”

Mr Walker has not denied Ms Grossman’s allegations, saying that his violence against her was a result of his struggles with mental health. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The ads were purchased by a subsidiary of the Republican Accountability PAC, a group that grew out of Republican anti-Trump voters, which was founded in 2020 by “never-Trump” Republicans, including strategist Sarah Longwell and author William Kristol. It says it has spent $10 million over the next three months on negative advertising and mobilizing voters to stop Mr Walker and other candidates it considers unfit for office or a threat to democracy. Among them are two candidates for governor, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Nevada.

The first ad purchase against Mr. Walker in the Atlanta media market is only $100,000. It would take much more to seriously penetrate Georgia’s massive Republican base, for whom Mr. Walker still has near-godlike status from his career as a college running back. But the anti-Trump group hopes to at least turn the heads of some swing voters.

In particular, Ms. Longwell, the group’s executive director, said she hoped to capitalize on what she called an emerging gap in candidate support over and above Georgia’s Republican ticket. While mr. Walker even ran roughly in the polls with Senator Raphael Warnock, the incumbent Democrat, she said, Governor Brian Kemp had outpaced his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, by a slightly larger margin.

“We think there are a lot of these voters in Georgia who will split their ticket, and who will vote for Kemp, who will vote for Brad Raffensperger, but not vote for Herschel Walker,” she said, while also becoming the Secretary of State for the Democratic Party. called Georgia. “For many of these voters, it’s about understanding the difference between the footballer and the person running for the Senate.”

One of those voters she referred to was Brenda James, a Republican from Columbus, Georgia, who said in an interview that she had voted for Trump in 2016 but for President Biden in 2020, according to the Republican Accountability PAC. She condemned Republicans for “attempts to manipulate and use Mr. Walker”.

“Bless the heart of poor Herschel,” said Mrs. James. “The man needs help. He doesn’t need to be put in the political spotlight like they do. Frankly, I find it disgusting and despicable.”

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