(CNN) — Republicans are standing by Herschel Walker.
“I think we’re going to stick with Walker….we’re going take it all the way to the end,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview with CNN that aired Tuesday afternoon. “I think they’re going to hang in there and scrap to the finish.”
McConnell’s comments came just hours before The Washington Post reported that “the mother of one of Herschel Walker’s children had to repeatedly press the former football star who is now the Republican Senate nominee in Georgia for funds to pay for a 2009 abortion that she said he wanted her to have, according to the woman and a person she confided in at the time.”
That was the latest in a series of allegations swirling around Walker and his past relationships with women. Amid all of this, his son, Christian, a conservative influencer, has spoken out against his father — insisting he was a less-than-ideal parent and that members of his family had urged him not to run for office.
The contrast between McConnell’s vote of confidence in Walker and the latest allegation against the Republican Senate nominee in Georgia are striking. But, it speaks to an uncomfortable reality that undergirds Republicans’ continued support for Walker: They badly need to win this seat for the Senate majority, and it’s simply too late now to back away from him and his troubled candidacy.
The Senate math is simple. Republicans need to net a single seat to win the majority. But, with Dr. Mehmet Oz trailing in Pennsylvania where Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring and Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly running surprisingly strong against Blake Masters, Republicans are looking at a very narrow window of opportunity to make the gains they needs.
A two-seat window, in fact. Nevada, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is in a very tight race with Adam Laxalt and, you guessed it, Georgia where Walker continues to run competitively against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock.
There’s just no other seat that has come on the board for Republicans that could allow them to step away from Walker. New Hampshire was, at the start of the election cycle, widely seen as a potential pickup but popular Gov. Chris Sununu decided not to run and Trump-aligned Don Bolduc emerged as the Republican nominee. While Republican strategists still view Sen. Maggie Hassan as vulnerable, she is clearly in a better spot than many expected her to be even a year ago. In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s numbers are somewhat soft but a Marist poll released this week showed him leading Republican nominee Joe O’Dea 48% to 41%.
Given all of that, what McConnell is engaging in is a bit of realpolitik. He is sticking with Walker not because he buys that all of the allegations against Walker are false or because he thinks Walker is a stellar candidate but because Walker gives him the best chance to win in a state where polling suggests Republicans can still win.
That’s it. Don’t overthink it. This isn’t about Walker. Not really. This is about getting McConnell to 51 seats in the Senate — plain and simple.