CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The National Federation of Independent Businesses, which represents around 2,000 small businesses in West Virginia, has endorsed Senate President Bill Cole in the gubernatorial race.

“As state Senate president, he played a critical role in passing two pieces of legislation that are going to transform this state–—right-to-work and prevailing wage reform,” NFIB’s Gil White said in a release Monday morning. “These weren’t easy positions to take, but Bill Cole understands how important it is that West Virginia stays competitive.”

Cole said his support of those highly controversial issues showcased his leadership and willingness to stick to principle.

“No idea–nothing–is off the table,” Cole said following the Monday announcement. “I certainly have my priorities, and my priorities are to get this state economically turned around.”

Following the endorsement at City Window Construction in Clarksburg, Cole described himself as “all in” on finding a way to rebuild West Virginia’s economy, which he believes will include a newfound commitment to fossil fuels.

“It is so critical that we enable those small businesses to grow, add jobs, add employment, as well as continuing to create that sort of an atmosphere in our state that’s conducive to bringing job creators to our state,” he said.

Cole also said he believed his stance on West Virginia’s regulatory climate led to the NFIB endorsement.

“I would expect to finish the job on regulatory reforms,” he said. “West Virginia’s ranked last in the country. We’re the most over regulated state there is. That just shouldn’t be. You need to get government out of the way. We need to make government be supportive of our job creators and not always be in the way of them.”

Cole also touched on the opioid addiction epidemic, which has been a lightning rod issue due to it’s severe impact in the Mountain State. Cole said treatment for addicts and harsh punishment for out-of-state dealers will help some people get back into the work force.

“West Virginia’s in the toughest financial times we’ve ever been in,” he said. “We have less than 50 percent of our adult able bodied work force working. We’re the only state to ever fall below 50 percent. We’re at 48 percent. That’s not sustainable in the future. We have to turn that around.”

“We’ll go after that. Within the first 30 days of my Administration, I’ll call a special session and we will pass enhanced penalties for people that come into our state that sell, peddle that poison. Mandatory sentencing.”

You can click here for the full list of Bill Cole’s endorsements and here for the full list of Democratic opponent Jim Justice’s endorsements.

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