CORNELIUS – N.C. Speaker of the House and U.S. Congressional candidate Thom Tillis announced the endorsements of Gov. Pat McCrory and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the type of place he hopes to continue to defend.

Tillis first made the announcement April 29 with McCrory and Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director for the U.S. Chamber, at SMT in Raleigh before coming to his hometown and announcing it with Engstrom at Champion Tire in Cornelius that same afternoon.

“It’s another example of the small businesses that really are the backbone of the economy,” Tillis said of Champion Tire. “Eighty-percent of all of the jobs in North Carolina are created by small businesses. Everybody thinks when we are talking about the colossal problems we have with regulations in the state that we are doing regulatory reform for big business, but we are really doing it for small businesses.  This is a classic example of a business that’s not like a large corporation where you have department of regulatory affairs. The same folks that are sometimes working out of the shop are having to deal with the bureaucracy that wants to come down on you and regulate you and distract you from business.”

With less than a week until the primary election, Tillis said he is “optimistic about winning the primary outright” and hopes to gain the support of his fellow contenders, who include Ted Alexander, Alex Lee Bradshaw, Greg Brannon, Heather Grant, Mark Harris, Edward Kryn and Jim Snyder.

If elected, Tillis said he hopes to continue what he says he’s done the past three years for the state by putting the focus on cutting taxes, spending and regulations, like the Affordable Care Act, to reduce the cost of doing business.

“We came out in 2011, our employment rate was 10.4 percent and now it’s 6.3 percent. The tax burden was the sixth worst in the nation and now is the 17th best in the nation,” he said. “A lot of that came by marrying tax reform and regulatory reform – really business reform.”

Engstrom said when looking at all of the candidates, including Sen. Kay Hagan, to put the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stamp of approval on, no other choice was plausible. He said there was a “clear contrast” in the way Tillis “has been working with the governor to lower the debt, lower taxes and cutting business taxes,” as compared to Hagan’s track record, which he said was “driving the American economy to the ground.”

“We believe Thom Tillis is the only candidate that can beat Kay Hagan,” Engstrom said when asked to compare him to the other primary candidates. “He’s the only candidate who has a demonstrated record for standing up for commerce.”

Tillis said he is proud of getting the support of McCrory and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among his lengthy list of backers.

“It’s an indication [McCrory] understands and supports what we’re doing. He understands the kind of results we’ve produced in Raleigh are exactly what we need in the nation,” Tillis said. “I think it will be great to have that relationship with the governor so we can complement one another. I think we can do things that will be helpful to the nation to get the nation’s economy back on track, and I'll also continue to advocate the priorities of North Carolinians.”

But he also said he won’t forget his hometown of Cornelius and will continue to stay connected by working and supporting the businesses, community leaders and town and county governments while still looking at the broader picture.

“As a house member, I have to advocate for my district, and as a House Speaker, I have to speak for the state,” he said. “The things I do here, I’m working to do with all of the other legislative members all across the state.”