During the Republican Primary to decide who would represent the GOP for U.S. Senate this year, candidate Gary Black warned that if his opponent Herschel Walker were nominated, the race would become all about Walker and his past.
Black, Georgia's state agricultural commissioner who hails from Commerce, was right.
Walker did win the nomination and now faces Democratic candidate and incumbent Raphael Warnock — and the only issue in the race is Walker and his past.
For any other candidate, someone with Walker's checkered resume would never get close to running for the U.S. Senate, a position that was at one time considered lofty and fit only for experienced, tested and trusted candidates.
Having Walker on the ballot makes a mockery of the American political system and is a symptom of how degraded the American political system has become.
The truth is, Walker is only on the ballot because he's a celebrity, a legend.
Walker's history as a UGA football star — perhaps the best running back ever in the school's history — made him the celebrity he is today. Those of us who got to watch him play knew at the time he was a once-in-a-lifetime football phenom.
It's his celebrity that, for the most part, put Walker on the ballot.
And that says a lot about the status of American culture and American politics.
It was his TV show that made Donald Trump a celebrity and got him on the ballot in 2016 — his personal bombast carried him the rest of the way to the White House.
The same could be said of TV personality Dr. Oz in the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, Kerri Lake, a former TV newscaster who's running for governor in Arizona and author J.D. Vance (Hillbilly Eulogy) who's running for an Ohio Senate seat.
Walker, Oz, Lake and Vance were all celebrities before they entered politics and they're surfing the culture of celebrity in their campaigns.
And this isn't the first time celebrity culture has jumped into politics.
Actor Ronald Reagan became president, wrestler Jesse Ventura became governor of Michigan, body builder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California, pro football player Jack Kemp became a congressman and a slew of other celebrities and star athletes have become mayors and held a variety political positions around the country.
But Herschel Walker?
To be charitable, Walker got knocked in the head a little too much to be considered smart enough to be a U.S. Senator.
His take on air pollution:
"So all of a sudden China and India ain’t putting nothing in there – cleaning that situation up. So all with that bad air, it’s still there. But since we don’t control the air, our good air decide to float over to China, bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. And now we’ve got to clean that back up.”
And Walker is an ardent liar. He claimed to have been valedictorian of his high school class (he wasn't) and that he graduated from UGA (he didn't), that he had worked in law enforcement (he hasn't) and that he had hundreds of people working for him across the country in his private business ventures (he doesn't).
As one magazine summed up Walker's candidacy: "Herschel Walker Is Running to Be the Senate’s Dumbest Liar."
And then there is the violence in Walker's past, threats to kill an ex-wife. Walker blames the threats on a mental illness he claims to have had.
Maybe, but the allegations of violence and threats of violence should be a disqualification for anyone running for the Senate.
Walker's personal life is messy in other ways, too. He fathered multiple children with different women and reportedly has little interaction with three of those he fathered. That seems to fly in the face of Walker's previous comments that fathers should never abandon their children.
And while Walker has publicly called for a total ban on all abortions, even in instances of rape or incest, he reportedly paid for one former girlfriend to have an abortion.
Any other candidate who had done those things would never have gotten the GOP nomination for Senate. But Walker's star power and celebrity continues to carry him.
Polls show the race between Walker and Warnock is deadlocked and either candidate could win.
While Democrat Warnock would likely garner most of the Black vote, Walker will undoubtedly get a lot of that vote as well given his celebrity status in the Black community.
The deciding votes in the race will probably come from the suburbs where many GOP-leaning voters might have a problem with Walker's history and his lack of intellectual depth. Even if they don't vote for Warnock, they might skip down the ballot and withhold voting for Walker.
Regardless of the final outcome, the fact that GOP voters chose Walker over a more stable, experienced and knowledgeable candidate in the primary begs the question: What is happening to the Republican Party?
By embracing candidates like Walker (there are other nutty GOP candidate on the ballot across the nation this year, too), the GOP has moved away from its conservative roots and toward a party that is aligned with conspiracy-mongering and a cult of celebrity over competence.
The only thing Walker has going for him is that he's not a Democrat and for many voters in Georgia, that's enough. They'd rather have anyone in office rather than someone from the Democratic Party no matter how unqualified the GOP candidate might be.
But in taking this attitude, the GOP is totally abandoning its conservative roots and any semblance of moderation.
That may work today, but over the long term, you have to wonder if a more radical and extremist GOP will survive as a major political party, or if disaffected conservatives will someday create a viable third party that is more moderate in both tone and substance.
Herschel Walker was a great football player, but he's a terrible excuse for a U.S. Senator.
The Republican Party should be better than this.