Friday, October 8, 2010
Meek rejects Sierra Club endorsement with Crist in Senate race
The Sierra Club's endorsement of both Gov. Charlie Crist and U. S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in the Senate race on Thursday took a surprise turn when Meek immediately rejected the endorsement.
Sierra Club officials said both Crist, a former Republican now running as an independent, and Meek, a Democrat, have strong environmental records -- especially compared to Republican Marco Rubio, a former Florida House speaker. But Meek immediately rejected the endorsement, calling it an "insult" to Florida's environmental community.
"I cannot in good conscience accept an endorsement from an organization that would stand with a governor who has consistently put developers, oil companies and the special interests first," Meek said.
Sierra Club officials said Crist has a strong record of supporting Everglades restoration, opposing proposed coal-fired power plants and taking action on climate change. Meek has a 100 percent voting record with the national League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club said. In contrast, the Sierra Club officials said Rubio continues to support offshore oil drilling and has questioned the science behind climate change.
Frank Jackalone, Florida staff director for the Sierra Club, told the Florida Tribune after the Meek rejection that the group was sticking by its dual endorsement.
"That came as a surprise to us -- we were not expecting it," Jackalone said of the rejection. "Right now our only response is we feel just as comfortable as we did before with our endorsement of both candidates."
Crist said he was honored by the Sierra Club endorsement, adding that Florida's economy is "inextricably linked to the health of our environment."
“As Governor, I fought to restore the Everglades, ban offshore drilling by constitutional amendment, increase energy efficiency and conservation and reduce climate change," Crist said. "I look forward to working with the Sierra Club in Washington along with all those Floridians looking for independent leadership so that we can create a green energy economy that will benefit our people and our environment.”
Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos said in an e-mail: "We wear the Sierra Club's criticism as a badge of honor. It seems they have a lot in common with Charlie Crist, since they tried to have it both ways in this race."
Polls suggest that Crist and Meek are battling for the same Democrats and moderate independent voters, and some analysts say the two could allow Meek to win by splitting that voting bloc. But Sierra Club officials, hoping that Rubio (who is leading in polls) will finish third in the race, rejected the idea that the Sierra Club endorsement could assist in the Republican victory.
"We think that Rubio's record is so extreme and so out of step with mainstream voters in Florida," said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club's national political director, "that we can be helpful in this race by being sure that people who don't necessarily understand know where he stands on issues get that information."
Download the Sierra Club endorsement by clicking here.
Read Meek's statement in response by clicking here.
(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.)