Herschel Walker, one of former President Donald Trump's hand-picked candidates for the Senate, is getting an endorsement Monday from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., one of the most powerful members of the Senate.
Thune told Politico that Walker, who is running to represent Georgia, is a "fighter, a uniter, and a proven winner. GOP whip Thune is the first member of the Senate's GOP leadership to endorse Walker, a college football legend and former National Football League star.
He has already been endorsed by GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Steve Daines of Montana, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Graham played a key role in leading Walker to announce his candidacy and told Politico that he spoke with Thune about endorsing him.
"I think John sees in Herschel a guy that can win in a state we can’t afford to lose if we want to take back the Senate majority," Graham said.
Other top Republicans are starting to warm up to Walker, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has not yet specifically endorsed the former football star, commenting that "there's every indication he's going to be a good candidate."
Walker's star is also beginning to rise for national Republicans after his $3.7 million fundraising haul in the third quarter of this year, which shows he can gather enough money to compete with Democrat Raphael Warnock's war chest.
Top party members reportedly don't want to see Walker fighting in a tough primary, and were happy with his decision to disagree with Trump's call for Republicans to wait out the 2022 and 2024 elections unless the issue of voter fraud is addressed.
Georgia's Senate race is key to Republicans as they try to regain control of the Senate, which is now tied at 50-50. Walker will face Warnock, who was elected to his seat in January during a special election.
In addition to speaking with Thune, Walker has also talked with McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The senatorial committee is officially neutral in the primary, where Walker is squaring off against several other GOP opponents.
The change comes after Senate Republicans had initially been uneasy about Walker after an Associated Press report outlined claims from his ex-wife that he'd once pointed a loaded gun at her head and had also threatened her in other ways.
The same report also detailed allegations that Walker exaggerated the financial success of his chicken business, Renaissance Man Food Services. It also claimed he over-billed the business' expenses to another company.
Thune, after the report, said Walker would "have to figure out how to answer" for the incidents that were reported in the story.
"Sometimes people who have success in one area of life and translate it to politics, it’s not as easy as it looks," Thune said at the time.
Walker is also open about struggling with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health condition described by the Cleveland Clinic as an individual with "'two or more separate personalities" that "control a person’s behavior at different times."
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