The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its state affiliate are backing Gov. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium | Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate | Treasury unsure of how long it can stave off default without debt limit hike DC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate MORE (D) for Senate in West Virginia.

"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, a vice president of the business group, 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."

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Manchin faces Republican John Raese for the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.).

The Chamber noted that during Manchin's two terms as governor, the state's economy has "remained strong, with a lower unemployment rate than the national average."

"From cutting taxes on businesses and workers, to supporting common sense energy policies, Joe has been an independent voice in West Virginia," Rickard added.

The endorsement of the influential business group could help Manchin pull away from Raese.

Rasmussen Reports has surveyed the race four times and found Manchin increasingly strengthening his lead. The governor has a 7-point lead in the latest Rasmussen poll, up two points from two weeks ago.

Despite the Chamber's endorsement, Republicans accused Manchin of supporting President Obama’s "big-government vision for our economic future.”

“Joe Manchin’s unwavering support for President Obama’s agenda has buried small businesses in new regulations, new taxes, and stifled their ability to create jobs," Caroline Duke, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement.

-- This post was updated at 1:23 p.m.