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U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Democrat in Senate race

Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is running for the late Sen. Robert Byrd's seat, is the only Democratic Senate candidate in the nation backed by the business lobbying group.

September 20, 2010|By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday endorsed Gov. Joe Manchin in the special election for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia, a rare nod for a Democratic candidate by the business lobbying group.

"We're endorsing Joe because he understands the economic challenges our country is facing and has a record of supporting policies that allow businesses to create jobs," Lisa Rickard, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber, said in a statement. "He is an invaluable leader who has a common-sense approach to job creation and getting America back on the road to recovery."

The Manchin campaign touted the endorsement while noting he is the only Senate candidate in the nation to have been endorsed both by the Chamber and the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor union.

"Business and labor leaders know that I will be an independent voice in Washington, and that I will always do the right thing for our state, regardless of political party," the governor said.

A spokesman for the chamber confirmed that the group has not endorsed any other Democratic candidate for Senate, though it has backed some in congressional races. The group is spending heavily on the midterm elections, and has paid for television ads targeting Democratic Senate candidates in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California.

John Raese, the Republican nominee, countered by announcing the endorsement of FreedomWorks, a conservative Washington-based group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Raese, a businessman, has run television ads attempting to link Manchin to unpopular Democratic leaders in Washington.

Manchin was first elected governor in 2004 and overwhelmingly reelected in 2008. He is running to serve the remaining two years of the late Robert Byrd's unexpired term.

A Rasmussen survey released Monday showed Manchin leading Raese, 50% to 43%.

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