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Meek declines Sierra Club nod

Rep. Kendrick Meek is saying, “thanks, but no thanks,” to an environmental group’s endorsement.

The Sierra Club, an environmental conservation group, endorsed the Florida Democratic Senate candidate on Thursday, calling him a “serious and accomplished” candidate who understands “urgency of environmental protection and the policies needed to accomplish that goal.”

Problem is -- the Club ALSO endorsed (and said the same nice things about) Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the independent candidate in the race from whom Meek must differentiate himself to have a shot at winning the three-way Senate contest.

That, Meek says, isn’t fair.

"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 in a statement in which he “respectfully declined” the group’s nod.

In its original announcement, the Club’s political director wrote that it rarely endorses more than one candidate in a race, but the group found something to like about both candidates. Meek opposes offshore drilling in Florida (Crist favored drilling before the BP oil spill but backed off that support after the disaster.) The group also praised Crist for championing preservation of the Everglades.

Responding to Meek’s rebuff, Sierra Club spokeswoman Maggie Kao said the Club stands by its endorsement. “We believe that both Meek and Crist are accomplished leaders who are committed to fighting climate disruption and building a clean energy economy to create jobs. Our endorsements of both candidates serve to reflect that belief,” she said.