Donald Trump should delay his expected announcement of a third run for the Republican presidential nomination until after the Georgia Senate run-off, a senior adviser said.
“I’m advising the president to hold off until after the Georgia race, after Herschel Walker,” Jason Miller told the rightwing network Newsmax.
Walker and the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, will face off again on 6 December, after neither passed 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The race could decide control of the Senate, depending on results in Arizona and Nevada.
Republicans expected widespread success but though the House looked set to change hands the Senate remains on a knife-edge after a high-profile Trump-endorsed candidate, the TV doctor Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, fell to embarrassing defeat.
Scott Reed, a Republican strategist, told the Associated Press: “We had a historic opportunity and Trump’s recruitment of unelectable candidates blew it for us. Trump’s now lost three elections in a row for the Republican party and it’s time to snap out of this foolishness.”
Trump has trailed 15 November – next Tuesday – to announce his run. He has also taken shots at Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor widely seen as his chief rival.
DeSantis enjoyed a strong night on Tuesday, winning re-election in a landslide, his victory speech greeted by chants of “two more years”. Worryingly for Trump, allies including the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post have come out strongly for DeSantis and voiced criticism of Trump.
On Wednesday, however, Fox News reported that Trump would not listen to advice to delay. It was also widely pointed out that the Arizona and Nevada races could still go Trump’s way.
Nor is robust runoff support for Walker a foregone conclusion. Trump has consistently attacked Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader. He is also widely held to have contributed to the party losing the Senate in 2021. Then, Warnock and Jon Ossoff won Georgia runoffs as Trump persisted in his lie that his defeat by Joe Biden was the result of electoral fraud, potentially depressing Republican turnout.
Nonetheless, Miller insisted: “Everything comes down to Herschel Walker and Georgia. And if we can pull that off, we might get … Chuck Schumer packing from the [Senate] majority leader’s office.
“I’m advising the president to hold off until after the Georgia race, after Herschel Walker. Priorities A, B, and C need to be about Herschel right now. This is bigger than anything else in the country.”
Miller also said Trump could deploy campaign funds to help Walker, a controversial former football star.
The adviser also urged Brian Kemp, the Georgia governor who defeated the Democrat Stacey Abrams for re-election, to get behind Walker too. Trump and Kemp clashed over Trump’s claims of fraud in his defeat by Biden in Georgia, amid election subversion efforts which have landed Trump in extensive legal jeopardy including an investigation in Fulton county.
“There were a lot of the Kemp-Warnock ticket splitters,” Miller said. “Kemp didn’t do anything for Herschel…