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Navy SEAL veteran, fmr. Trump official Latham Saddler enters US Senate race against Warnock

Latham Saddler (University of Georgia/Released)

Navy veteran Latham Saddler announced a challenge to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock on Thursday with hopes of emphasizing his military experience to appeal to conservatives in what’s likely to be a crowded Republican primary.

Saddler, a banking executive and former Trump White House official, unveiled his campaign with a video that highlights his background as a Navy SEAL and a former aide on the National Security Council.

“I will put Georgia first and keep America first,” he said. “I will not back down in the face of our enemies who seek to destroy us, or from those among us who seek to divide us. I’ll fight for you with honor, hard work, respect and resilience. Because that’s the American Way.”

Saddler is the second Republican to announce a 2022 campaign against Warnock, the Democratic pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church who won a January runoff to become the first Black U.S. senator in Georgia history.

Kelvin King, a prominent Black Republican construction executive, entered the race earlier this week. And several higher-profile contenders are weighing a run. The lengthy list includes Attorney General Chris Carr, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, former U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and former UGA football star Herschel Walker.

In his announcement video, Saddler said he’s running in part because he’s concerned about China’s growing influence and fearful that “our country is being undermined from within by a broken political system lacking authentic leadership.”

Saddler, an Atlanta native, was student-body president at the University of Georgia and taught himself Farsi after his graduation as he charted a course as a Navy SEAL. Over an eight-year military career, Saddler deployed on an array of missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His last active-duty assignment was Director of Intelligence Programs, helping to develop special operations for the National Security Council at the White House. He later was selected as a White House fellow before joining Synovus as an executive.

Saddler enters the race as a relative unknown in a field that could soon feature more prominent figures, but he hopes to parlay his standing as an outsider and decorated veteran to jump to a head start in the unsettled GOP contest.

“We are a caring and courageous people. And we deserve better,” Saddler said. “Raising my two sons here in Georgia has only strengthened my resolve to lead and serve. I will not stand by waiting for someone else to do the work required.”

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(c) 2021 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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