McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race

McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House sets up Senate shutdown showdown Biden says he doesn't believe a government shutdown will happen MORE (R-Ky.) waded into the Georgia Senate race on Wednesday, endorsing former football star Herschel Walker for the GOP nomination to take on Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockMaternal and child health legislation must be prioritized now Overnight Defense & National Security — Austin mandates vaccine for Guardsmen Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans MORE (D-Ga.) next year.

“I am happy to endorse Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate in Georgia,” McConnell said in a statement. “Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate. I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done.”

McConnell’s endorsement came two days after the No. 2 Senate Republican, Minority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight House passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy Senate nearing deal on defense bill after setback MORE (R-S.D.), announced his support for Walker.

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So far, four other Senate Republicans have endorsed Walker’s campaign: Sens. Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyFacebook unblocks Rittenhouse searches GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (Mo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesBill honoring 13 service members killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden's desk The Memo: Much-criticized Trump policy puts Biden in a vise The good, bad, and ugly of Tester's Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act MORE (Mont.), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (Kan.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (S.C.).  

Walker, a former running back for the University of Georgia who had a lengthy NFL career, entered the Georgia Senate race in August after months of prodding by former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE. Since then, he’s shot to the front of the pack of Republicans running to take on Warnock in 2022. 

Walker’s entrance into the Georgia Senate race at first worried some Republican leaders, who feared that his political inexperience, as well allegations of an erratic past, could haunt his campaign and jeopardize the GOP’s chances of recapturing control of the Senate next year.

But many Republicans have come around in recent months, believing that Walker offers them their best chance of ousting Warnock next year. 

The Georgia Senate race is among the closest-watched and most competitive of the 2022 midterm cycle. Warnock won his seat earlier this year in a hard-fought runoff election against former Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSenate GOP worries Trump could derail bid for majority Perdue mulling primary challenge against Kemp in Georgia: report McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.). 

That win, combined with Sen. Jon OssoffJon OssoffDemocrats anxious over Abrams silence on Georgia governor bid Perdue on possible run for Georgia governor: 'I'm concerned about the state of our state' Top Senate Democrat calls on attorney general to fire prisons chief MORE’s (D-Ga.) victory in a separate runoff against former Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Stacey Abrams launches campaign for Georgia governor Democrats anxious over Abrams silence on Georgia governor bid MORE (R-Ga.), helped Democrats clinch their narrow majority in the Senate.