01 herschel walker
CNN  — 

Former President Donald Trump’s backing of football great Herschel Walker to run for the Georgia Senate seat has been enough to effectively freeze the GOP field in place – even though some Republicans privately worry the political neophyte might fizzle against Sen. Raphael Warnock in a high-stakes general election.

Warnock, who is running for a full six-year term next year after narrowly winning his seat in a special election in January, is a top target for Republicans. And with the backing of Trump and his closest allies, who believe that Walker is uniquely able to unite a party torn apart by their 2020 losses, prospective Republican candidates are signaling they are willing to sit out until the legendary athlete makes a decision.

But the prospect that Walker could have the field to himself is causing anxiety among some Republicans in Georgia and Washington, who privately are uncertain whether the first-time candidate and Texas resident could handle the enormous challenges ahead. And they’re worried that Trump is propping up a candidate simply because he has been a loyal friend, rather than assessing the former NFL running back’s electoral viability in a pivotal battleground that could again determine the next Senate majority.

Trump’s involvement in the Georgia primary underscores both his enduring influence among the conservative base and concerns among senior Republicans that his meddling in the 2022 midterms could turn off more moderate voters whose support the GOP needs to win back power on Capitol Hill.

In a brief phone call on Wednesday, Walker didn’t seem to be in any particular rush to announce.

“Right now, (I’m) just going through the process and thinking about it,” Walker told CNN. “Not really talking a lot about it.”

And he insisted he wasn’t doing Trump’s bidding.