Georgia Senate candidate and ex-pro football player Herschel Walker has won the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cementing his support from the Republican Party in a race that could determine control of the chamber.
"Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator (Raphael) Warnock, and help us take back the Senate. I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done," McConnell said in a statement to Politico.
McConnell’s endorsement is his first for a non-incumbent in the 2022 elections, according to the news outlet.
The endorsement could help Walker lock down the GOP primary, where he faces several lesser-known opponents.
Walker entered the race with the backing of former President Donald Trump, who recruited him into the contest.
On Monday, the retired football player also received an endorsement from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the No. 2 Senate Republican.
According to Politico, Senate GOP leaders were skeptical of Walker as a candidate at first, worried that revelations about his past behavior would make him a weak nominee.
The concern has lessened in recent days, with officials saying they have been impressed with Walker’s fundraising abilities and the campaign team he’s put together, Politico reports.
The eventual Republican nominee will face Warnock, a freshman Democrat who won his seat in a January special election. Warnock has been raising massive sums of money ahead of next year’s midterm election, Politico reports.
The news outlet noted Walker has been talking with several GOP senators in recent months, including McConnell, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The committee has remained officially neutral in the primary.
Walker has also received a donation from Senate GOP chair Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Politico reports, citing an unnamed source.
The former athlete has drawn scrutiny for his past behavior, including his divorce from a woman who accused him of pointing a gun at her head and engaging in controlling behavior.
He has also faced questions about his management of a chicken company he owns, Renaissance Man Food Services, Politico report.
But Walker has been candid about his struggles with a mental health condition, writing in a 2008 book that he’d been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, once known as multiple personality disorder. He said he constructed alternate personalities as a defense against bullying that he suffered as a stuttering, overweight child. Walker was raised in Wrightsville, 50 miles east of Macon.
Walker has also received endorsements from GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Steve Daines of Montana, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Graham has played a key role in helping to guide Walker’s candidacy, according to Politico.
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