Search This Blog

Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Walker Campaign Autopsies

 Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.  In a normal year, Republicans would have regained a majority in the Senate.  But in some places, they threw away seats by running bad candidates. The worst was Herschel Walker in Georgia.  He ended up with 48.6 percent of the vote.  If the Republicans had run a normal candidate (e.g., Doug Collins) or even if Walker had run a normal campaign, the GOP would have taken the seat.

Marc Caputo at NBC reports that Walker's son told the campaign about his unacknowledged children.
By that point, because of the family information provided by the candidate’s son in January, the staff was prepared for questions about Walker’s other children after it had conducted opposition research into him to anticipate future surprises. The “oppo” book, however, didn’t have information about the abortion story, which rocked Walker’s campaign.

The oppo book was also the second dossier made about Walker.

Before Walker announced his candidacy Aug. 25, 2021, he engaged three top political consultants with Georgia roots — Austin Chambers, Paul Bennecke and Nick Ayers, who had served as former Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff. They promptly hired a law firm to conduct opposition research on Walker. It’s a standard practice on campaigns to do self-research, in order to know everything that could come out about a candidate.

In just two weeks, the firm assembled a 500-page dossier filled with possible business scandals, controversial quotes from Walker and allegations of domestic violence and bizarre behavior, according to four sources who had seen the oppo book.

“We found 500 pages in two weeks on you and God only knows what else is out there,” Chambers told Walker, according to one of the sources who overheard him discuss the book with Walker in a July meeting in the dining room of a Republican donor who lived in Atlanta’s Buckhead district.

Insiders diverge on why the three consultants did not end up working for Walker, but knowledgeable sources say they parted ways.

Natalie Allison at Politico:

Interviews with a dozen campaign staff members and Republican operatives working with the Walker campaign suggest that it wasn’t just the candidate who had flaws — the campaign itself was hampered by poor decision-making.

Some said that Walker and his wife, Julie Blanchard Walker, never fully empowered his team to make decisions, frequently questioning suggestions and plans by veteran campaign operatives. The pair insisted on spending what aides described as an “excessive” amount of time poring over proposals for every campaign stop, bottlenecking planning. That included wanting to spend significant time in heavily Democratic areas to woo Black voters, a problem that worsened in the runoff when staff wanted Walker to focus exclusively on mobilizing Republicans who had just voted for him in the general election.

Staffers said Blanchard Walker even suggested her husband should be winning as much as 50 percent of the Black vote in Georgia, regularly commenting that the campaign needed “to be getting him in front of his people, in front of his community,” as one person working on the campaign recalled.

Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast:

Walker wasn’t surprised he had won Johnson County. He won it, in fact, with slightly under 74 percent of the electorate. Walker was instead surprised—“absolutely shocked,” according to a former staffer—that he didn’t win 100 percent of the county. Not only did Walker fall well short of those absurd expectations, Gov. Brian Kemp outperformed him in Johnson County, another fact that infuriated him, three staffers said.

“I’m gonna call the sheriff and have him find out who didn’t vote for me,” Walker said, according to one aide.