Jack Kingston endorses Ted Cruz for president

Former Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston, the runner-up in the 2014 Georgia GOP race for an open Senate seat, endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign for president.

The endorsement Wednesday gives the conservative candidate an influential establishment figure in Georgia who has mainstream appeal across the state.

Kingston called Cruz a trusted, consistent conservative who has "led the charge on many of the critical battles for conservative values in Washington over the past few years and has defended those same values before the Supreme Court."

Cruz showered Kingston with compliments as well, saying that the Savannah Republican "never bowed to the pressure of Washington to go along and get along."

Kingston served 11 terms in the U.S. House before launching his bid for the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Saxby Chambliss. He and David Perdue emerged as the two leading vote-getters after a brutal primary, and Perdue ultimately secured the nomination by brandishing his outsider credentials and painting Kingston as a figure of the Washington establishment.

Kingston's presidential pick makes for an unusual partnership: Kingston, whose appropriator background made him an influential player in the halls of Congress, and Cruz, a tea party favorite who rails against Washington.

But their relationship also proves why retail politicking can prove crucial. Cruz is the only Republican presidential candidate to make multiple visits to Savannah - at least three times over the last year - and Kingston is a close friend of Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe.