The Washington Times - July 25, 2012, 02:08PM

Republican George Allen won the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday in his Senate race against Democrat Tim Kaine in Virginia, giving the former governor and senator the backing of the world’s largest business federation.

Mr. Allen said he was “honored” to have earned the “very meaningful” endorsement.

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“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Virginia job creators who need lower taxes, reasonable regulations, and more affordable energy and health care to be able to grow and hire again,” Mr. Allen said in a statement. “I share the U.S. Chamber’s commitment to a less intrusive federal government to help American businesses have the freedom and opportunity to compete and succeed.”

The announcement isn’t entirely shocking — earlier this year, the group launched ads both for Mr. Allen and against Mr. Kaine.

But Sen. Mark Warner, a centrist Democrat who made a fortune in the then-nascent cellular phone industry, won the group’s endorsement in 2008 running against fellow former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican. Mr. Kaine is campaigning in that same mold of a moderate, business-friendly Democrat, and has held numerous small business roundtables around the state, as has Mr. Allen.

When the U.S. Chamber began running ads, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying it would remain neutral in the race. After Wednesday’s announcement, the Fairfax Chamber issued a statement reiterating its longstanding policy of not making endorsements in federal elections.

Meanwhile, the Kaine campaign attempted to use Wednesday’s announcement to turn the subject back to Mr. Allen’s opposing the congressional deal agreed to raise the federal debt ceiling last summer. Mr. Allen cited the lack of a hard balanced budget amendment in the deal and the potential risk to U.S. troops and Virginia jobs as two of the reasons he opposed the deal.

“The fact is both the U.S. Chamber and Tim Kaine endorsed a bipartisan compromise, negotiated by [House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor and supported by Governor Bob McDonnell, to prevent default,” said Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine. “George Allen may think it’s appropriate to attack Tim Kaine for that position on a Tuesday and then buddy-up to the Chamber on a Wednesday, but Virginians expect more from their leaders than using national defense and Virginia jobs to score political points.”