(Bloomberg) -- Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Herschel Walker for the U.S. Senate from Georgia, completing the establishment Republican embrace of the ex-professional football star recruited by former president Donald Trump in a 2022 race that will be key for determining which party controls the chamber.

McConnell said he was “happy” to endorse Walker’s bid to defeat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, calling the former football star “the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate” in a statement released by Walker’s campaign.

While Trump had called for Walker to run in March, some Republicans have expressed concern that they need a candidate with more experience in politics to unseat Warnock, who won a special election early this year. Warnock and Jon Ossoff won both of the state’s Senate seats, the first time Democrats represented Georgia in the Senate since 2003.

McConnell’s support follows the endorsement of Walker by leading GOP senators including John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican from South Dakota, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Walker announced his candidacy last month, joining other candidates seeking the GOP nomination including Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. 

(Corrects spelling of Walker’s first name in first pragraph)

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