Saturday, December 4, 2021

McConnell supports ex-soccer star Walker in Georgia Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell approved Herschel Walker’s candidacy for the Georgia Senate on Wednesday, influencing the candidacy of a former soccer star whose turbulent personal history could create problems. for his general election campaign.

Walker is the likely favorite to win the Republican primaries next May, and on the surface looks like he has the desired political profile as he seeks to oust Democrat Raphael Warnock, the state’s first black senator, and help the GOP regain control of the Senate.

Walker was a football hero at the University of Georgia prior to his long NFL career. He is a business owner whose chicken products are widely available. And he’s a black conservative backed by former President Donald Trump, a longtime friend who has repeatedly urged Walker to flee.

But he also has a long history of mental health problems, many of which Walker detailed in his autobiography. An Associated Press investigation in July revealed allegations that Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success, and harassed business partners with unpredictable behavior.

McConnell, Kentucky, was initially lukewarm about Walker’s candidacy. But by backing him now, McConnell can avoid what could have been a dirty inner-party struggle with Trump that could complicate the search for a new Senate majority.

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

In a statement, Walker expressed his admiration for McConnell’s “determination to rally the party to achieve the collective goal of defeating Senator Warnock.”

“The Democrats have already announced that they will spend everything necessary to keep Georgia blue,” Walker said. “The stakes have never been this high – if we all work together, we will win next November and reclaim the Senate. The Herschel team is very grateful to Senator McConnell for his support. “

The 2022 Senate race is turning into one of the most controversial races in the electoral cycle. Long a firm territory of the Republican Party, Georgia has become a major battleground since Democrat Joe Biden competed with it in November’s presidential elections last year. The Democrats then took both Senate seats in the second round of elections in January.

Warnock won a snap election to fill the remaining term of Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who has retired and is due to run in 2022 for a six-year term.

A number of Republicans quickly lined up to enter the primary. But Walker, who mysteriously teased the candidacy for months, effectively froze his field of vision due to his close ties to Trump.

Walker began his campaign in late August and is one of the few Trump-backed candidates to have raised GOP concerns because they passed minimal scrutiny before enlisting the former president’s backing.

Walker revealed his mental illness in his 2008 book Breaking Free, which details his diagnosis of dissociative personality disorder. In this report, Walker talked about a dozen personalities – or “alters” that he created as a defense mechanism against bullying, which he said he suffered as an overweight stuttering child.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness describes the disorder as “alternating multiple identities,” leaving a person with “gaps in their memory of everyday events.” It notes that men with this disorder often “exhibit more aggressive behavior than amnesia.”

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In his book, Walker recognized strong motives. He wrote that he was playing Russian roulette and remembered sitting at his kitchen table in 1991 and pointing a pistol, loaded with a single bullet, at his head. “I was not suicidal,” Walker explained, but “just looked at mortality as the ultimate problem.”

Walker spoke about the change, saying that in 2001 he decided it was “time to stop running and face the harsh realities.” He cited therapy and his Christian faith as influencing factors.

His tipping point: while driving a car, confronting the person who “ruined my schedule” and thinking about what it would be like to shoot that person. Walker changed course, he wrote when he saw a bumper sticker that read SMILE. JESUS ​​LOVES YOU.”

However, according to court records obtained by AP, Walker’s aggressive behavior continued after the 2001 exposure and his attempts to get help.

Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, noted his spikes during the divorce proceedings by talking about “physical abuse and threats.” In 2005, four years after she filed for divorce, Grossman returned to court for a protective order after Walker repeatedly expressed his desire and intent to kill her and her boyfriend.

According to affidavits from Grossman’s sister, Maria Zettos, Walker called looking for his ex-wife while she was away with her new boyfriend. Tsettos answered the call and said Walker became “very threatening” when he was informed of Grossman’s whereabouts. According to Zettos, Walker “made it clear that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”

Walker contacted Cettos on another occasion and repeated the threats in graphic terms, and according to Grossman’s account to the court, Walker publicly confronted her later that day: he “drove slowly in his car, pointed at (her) and followed her “. (her) finger when he was driving. “

By issuing a restraining order against Walker, a Texas judge temporarily stripped Walker of his right to own a firearm.

According to court documents, concerns about Walker’s behavior were reflected in his chicken business, now known as Renaissance Man Food Services.

Walker said his company employs hundreds of people, including chicken processing plants in Arkansas, and has annual sales of between $ 70 million and $ 80 million. However, when Walker applied for a federal payroll protection program last year, his company said only eight employees received $ 182,000 in aid.

In a recent lawsuit, Walker indicated that the company made an average of about $ 1.5 million in annual profits between 2008 and 2017. Meanwhile, Walker’s business partners revealed in the same case that he does not own the chicken processing plants he claims. Instead, they described him as a licensing partner who lent his name to the business.

In the 2018 wrongful termination lawsuit filings, in which the employee ultimately lost, Walker is portrayed as a temperamental and unreliable partner.

Walker’s main rivals have pledged to continue working despite McConnell’s support.

“We’re in this race to win, we’re the Georgia candidate (not the Swamp),” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, comparing his campaign to a surprise run at the Atlanta Braves World Series. “Our worldview today is the same as #Braves: Kill the Narrative.”

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