Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker insisted Sunday he was not trying to claim he was a member of law enforcement when he showed off an honorary sheriff’s badge during a debate with Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock — before missing a second showdown in the closely watched race.
The former football star was widely mocked and accused of exaggerating his credentials when he pulled out the Johnson County badge during Friday’s debate with Warnock.
Walker admitted to NBC News in an interview that the badge was “honorary,” but also “legit” and grants him certain authorities in the jurisdiction.
“This is from my hometown,” Walker said of the badge. “This is from Johnson County, from the sheriff from Johnson County, which is a legit badge.”
“Everyone can make fun, but this badge gives me the right, If anything happens in this county, I have the right to work with the police and get things done,” he added.
“It is an honorary badge, but they can call me whenever they want me, and I have the authority to do things for them, to work with them on things,” Walker went on.
The Johnson County sheriff confirmed to NBC News that he gave the badge to Walker and that his department could enlist the former Georgia Bulldog to assist in a crisis situation.
Early voting kicked off Monday in Georgia, including in a Senate race Republicans see as key to flipping the chamber back to their control.
Democrats announced over the weekend that they would bring in the big guns to help Warnock, with former President Barack Obama scheduled to headline an Atlanta rally later this month.
Walker skipped a Sunday night debate with Warnock and Libertarian businessman Chase Oliver, and an empty podium on the stage was a glaring reminder of the Republican’s absence.
“I think it’s important to point out that my opponent Herschel Walker is not here, and I think that half of being a senator is showing up,” Warnock said at one point. “That’s half of life. And I have shown up for the people of Georgia time and time again.”
The Walker campaign alleged that the Atlanta Press Club, the organizer’s of Sunday’s debate, was biased in favor of Warnock, according to Fox News.
Warnock leads Walker by 3.3 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of Peach State polls.