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Aaron Gould Sheinin

Georgia Chamber backs Drew Ferguson in 3rd District runoff

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May 6, 2016: U.S. Rep District 3 Democratic candidate Mike Crane, center, answers a question during the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk Young Debate Series at the GPB studio in Atlanta May 6, 2016. Fellow candidate Drew Ferguson looks on. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

May 6, 2016: U.S. Rep District 3 Democratic candidate Mike Crane, center, answers a question during the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk Young Debate Series at the GPB studio in Atlanta May 6, 2016. Fellow candidate Drew Ferguson looks on. BRANT SANDERLIN/BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM.

It’s probably not a surprise, but the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Thursday announced it is endorsing former West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson in the Republican runoff for the 3rd congressional district.

Ferguson, who helped bring Kia to West Georgia, is battling state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, in the July 26 runoff. Crane has famously cultivated an anti-establishment persona and the Chamber is as establishment as it gets. Some Crane supporters have even suggested Ferguson is so establishment he’s not a conservative, while Ferguson has accused Crane of being so far outside the mainstream he’s OK with shooting police.

In a release, the Chamber said it supports “candidates who demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for Georgia’s job creators and who will work to help grow our economy and opportunities for job creation.”

Ferguson, the business group says, “will fight to keep Georgia the #1 state in the nation to do business.”

Update July 15 10:09 a.m.: Crane’s camp responds. His spokeswoman Jacqueline Byrd sends along the following response:

“It should come as no surprise that the Georgia Chamber, long recognized as the puppeteer of many elected officials, would throw their weight behind the establishment candidate Drew Ferguson. If voters were trying to determine which candidate is the true conservative from the 3rd … this endorsement should definitely clear up any confusion. Mike Crane is a champion of conservative values and he welcomes the chamber’s endorsement of his opponent.”