During Thursday’s call, Graham, Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour and Todd Ricketts were reportedly among the co-chairs of Walker’s campaign finance committee, which continues to grow but includes seven senators and Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin (R- Okla.), according to a document obtained by POLITICO.
Senator Rand Paul will lead Walker’s libertarian outreach during the runoff. A Libertarian candidate in the Nov. 8 election siphoned off 2% of the vote, preventing Walker or Senator Raphael Warnock from securing more than 50% to avoid a runoff.
Graham and Gingrich told people on the call that Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis should lend their support to the Walker campaign.
As prominent Republicans across the country pointed the finger at Trump this week in the wake of a disappointing midterm election, the Senate GOP — already split over the approach to this year’s campaigns — needs to save big part of the bickering after the second round. Scott, who planned to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his leadership job, is now unlikely to do so after failing to win key seats in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and passing up pickup opportunities during of an election supposed to inaugurate a red wave.
Shortly after the conference call, Republican Senate offices received an email from the NRSC with talking points about Herschel Walker and the Georgia runoff and seeking members’ help to act as surrogates for Walker. over the next few weeks. “We’ve had a few losses, but we’re on track to win the majority again,” read one of the talking points in the email.
Scott donated $500,000 of his leadership PAC to a pro-Walker super PAC in Georgia and has spent much of the past two days on the phone with donors. And Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Majority Leader had started making fundraising calls himself in Georgia on Thursday, according to a person familiar with his efforts.
Republicans are already beginning to make “ALL HANDS ON DECK” calls for Georgia, as was seen in an email Thursday from the Louisiana Republican Party asking for help from GOP supporters. The state party asked members to volunteer to knock on doors in Georgia or send calls and texts from their homes on Walker’s behalf.
In Ohio, JD Vance, who won Tuesday’s Senate race, began tapping into his list of supporters to solicit donations for Walker – money that would be split between the two campaigns.
Super PACs are already starting to return to the airwaves in Georgia, with a major Democratic group making a quick jump on the state. This weekend, American Bridge is rolling out a seven-figure television, radio and digital program in the state, aimed at voters outside of the Atlanta media market.
The campaign kicks off with a pair of TV ads, which were first shared with POLITICO. The first ad features a series of women calling Walker a liar over a litany of issues. In the ad, two women specifically refer to reports that Walker paid his then-girlfriend for an abortion.
“With these ads, American Bridge is once again seeking to help Georgia voters understand that Herschel Walker’s hypocrisy and lies make him dangerous and unfit for office, especially since the outcome of this runoff could determine Senate control or expand a Democratic majority,” the group’s chair, Jessica Floyd, said in a statement.
The group’s second ad features a woman from Marietta, Georgia saying that she “has voted for Republican candidates in the past,” before saying she doesn’t think she can do so again, reinforcing the liar theme: “I will pray for Herschel Walker, but I will not vote for him,” the ad concludes.
Both ads are scheduled to begin airing in the state on Saturday.
While pre-election polls left unclear whether a pair of October scandals – involving two former partners who said Walker urged and paid for women to have abortions – were enough to sink Walker, Election Day results showed that Walker was nearly 5 points behind GOP Governor Brian Kemp.
Republicans are also preparing to flood the airwaves. The NRSC began airing TV ads on Thursday, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact, while launching a new spot attacking Warnock.
Meanwhile, the vote count continues in Arizona and Nevada.
In Arizona, there are still hundreds of thousands of outstanding ballots. As of Friday morning, the secretary of state’s office predicts there are more than 500,000 ballots left to count in the state.
The largest chunk of ballots remains in Maricopa County, the state’s largest county, which still has about 350,000 ballots. County election officials had said ahead of the election that they hoped the vast majority of votes would be counted by the Friday after the election. But at a Thursday night press conference, they acknowledged that would not be the case.
“The goal posts have changed,” said Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. He said the county had to readjust its expectations due to a flurry of mail-in ballots dropped off at polling centers on Election Day.
Those ballots – some 290,000 of them, 70% more than the previous record number of ballots to be delivered to polling stations on Election Day – were slowing counting due to the lengthy verification process. This final bracket of votes, if historic voting patterns hold, should be heavily Republican.
Gates did not specify how long it would take to tally all of the ballots in particular, but said he expected the daily tabulation posts to be close to what was released on Wednesday and Thursday, which ended up being between 62,000 and 78,000 votes.
These ballots will also be among the last to be counted, as Maricopa and many other electoral jurisdictions practice a “first in, first out” counting method that counts ballots that arrive earlier first. It’s the historic norm in Maricopa to count ballots this way, and elections there are run by the GOP-dominated County Board of Supervisors and a Republican county recorder.
Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, used the extended deadline and the fact that ballots arriving later are counted last to attack election officials and lay the groundwork to cast doubt on her loss, if she lost.
She took to Newsmax on Thursday to accuse election officials of “foot-dragging” and “trying to delay the inevitable” in the contest. She also indicated that legal action could take place in the future, noting that she has “a lot of lawyers” waiting.
“Quite frankly, it’s offensive to Kari Lake to say that these people behind me are slowing this down when they’re working 2 to 6 p.m.,” Gates said during his Thursday press conference.
There are also a large number of ballots in circulation in Nevada, with at least tens of thousands to count. Many of those ballots are from Clark County, the largest in the state. Elections official Joe Gloria, Clark County’s registrar of voters, said Thursday he expects the count in his county to be completed Saturday.
But if the margin was incredibly tight, a call for the Senate race could be postponed until next week. Voters with defective ballots – a ballot that came back unsigned, or election officials are unable to verify the signature on the ballot – can be “cured” by voters for up to Monday by confirming their ballot with election officials. And the provisional ballots, those which emanate from the voters registered in a polling station, will not be validated until Wednesday.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.
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