In an unusual move by a Democratic candidate for elected office, Rep. Kendrick Meek declined an endorsement from the Sierra Club Thursday mere hours after the group endorsed both he and Gov. Charlie Crist in the state’s U.S. Senate race.

“With Crist and Meek we can count on two serious and accomplished candidates for the U.S. Senate who understand the urgency of environmental protection and the policies needed to accomplish that goal,” said Frank Jackalone, Florida staff director of the Sierra Club, in a press release announcing the endorsement.

Shortly afterward, Meek declined the co-endorsement. Meek’s campaign sent out its own press release:

This election is about taking a stand and fighting for principles you believe in. Today’s Sierra Club co-endorsement is an insult to Florida’s environmental community. The Sierra Club has chosen to stand with a governor who stood on stage applauding as Sarah Palin chanted, ‘Drill, Baby, Drill,’ a governor who signed a law making it easier for big developers to drain the Everglades, a governor who endorsed a bill that would have allowed drilling just three miles away from Florida beaches, and a governor who used polluter talking points to attack climate change legislation.

Jackalone, when reached by phone Thursday afternoon, said, “‘We think that Rep. Meek and Gov. Crist would both make excellent senators.”

When asked whether the endorsement was an “insult” to Florida’s environmental community, he said, “It’s not at all. It’s not. It’s recognizing the strengths in both candidates. We’re surprised. I’m not surprised that Meek wants to win the election, so he’s trying to differentiate himself.”

He added, “It seems like [Meek] was disappointed and I’m surprised.”

This isn’t the first co-endorsement in the race. The Florida Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in the state, also co-endorsed both Meek and Crist in May.

Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.

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