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Environmental Group Sides With Murphy in Florida Senate Race

Officially nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters struggles to find Republicans to endorse

Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, has secured the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorsement in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, has secured the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorsement in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The League of Conservation Voters on Tuesday became the latest group to pick sides in Florida’s Democratic Senate primary.

The influential environmental group’s political action committee, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, announced it was backing Rep. Patrick Murphy over Rep. Alan Grayson ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

“We don’t have 10 to 15 years to get this right. Climate change is a real threat and Florida is directly impacted. Almost every study out there shows that South Florida in particular, and Miami specifically, will be the most impacted citizens in the entire world,” Murphy said Tuesday.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, senor vice president for government affairs of the LCV, said on a conference call with Murphy that the group would encourage supporters to donate money and volunteer for the South Florida Democrat — whom they view as having the best chance to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

[Rubio’s Lead in Florida Evaporates as GOP Struggles to Overcome Trump Slump]

The conservation advocacy group is officially nonpartisan, but endorsements have skewed in favor of Democrats. Sittenfeld attributed that to an evolution among Republicans away from the group’s positions.

“We feel like the Republican Party has left us, unfortunately. We would love to be able to support more Republicans,” she said. “We enthusiastically supported Sen. [Susan] Collins in the … 2014 cycle. But unfortunately we just see more and more Republicans taking really extreme positions.”

Sittenfeld said that the LCV has long endorsed both Democrats and Republicans.

“And it’s really unfortunate that in the last few election cycles, Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate is so radical and extreme and has pushed their members along with the tea party and the Koch brothers and others to really take all these votes … literally hundreds of votes each Congress that are totally out of step with what the American people want,” she said.

Even when speaking favorably of some Florida Republican lawmakers, Sittenfeld signaled there would not be endorsements coming for GOP House members like Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

“Congressman Curbelo is an example of someone who’s taken some good votes and talked about the need to act on climate change,” she said. “But his overall record unfortunately is not, I would say, everything that we look for.”

Because of coordination rules, Sittenfeld said she was not privy to potential investments in television or direct mail supporting Murphy ahead of the primary battle. A request for information about those efforts was not immediately returned.

Contact Lesniewski NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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