The nonprofit Everglades Trust is endorsing Democrat Gwen Graham and Republican Ron DeSantis in the governor's race, giving the two front-runners an additional boost as toxic algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee threaten Florida's beaches.
Graham got the nod despite Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell's criticism of the American Dream mega-mall project near the Everglades that Graham's family company is involved in.
Mitchell did not mention the project in a press release. She cited Graham's actions in Congress and the work of her father, former Florida governor and Senator Bob Graham, whom Mitchell called "one of our state’s greatest environmentalists."
"Throughout her life, Gwen Graham has fought to protect Florida’s natural treasures: as a young law student, she volunteered pro-bono for the Sierra Club; in Congress, she co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to stop oil drilling off our coasts and was a powerful voice for Everglades restoration,” Mitchell said.
DeSantis likely had the endorsement from the get-go, since his opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has taken $804,000 from the Big Sugar groups that are being blamed for creating toxic algae blooms plaguing Lake Okeechobee.
"Pay-to-Play Putnam," as Mitchell has called him, has also received $7.6 million from five political action committees that receive a significant portion of their contributions from the sugar industry.
“Ron was born and raised in Florida," Mitchell said. "He understands that water is our state’s most precious resource and he stands with the boaters, anglers, the outdoor recreation industry and the people of our state who want to put an end to toxic algae. He’s not afraid to stand up to special interests who have stood in the way of sending water south for decades.”
In Congress, DeSantis "supported eliminating corporate welfare for the sugar industry and has supported Everglades restoration at every turn. Most recently, he was instrumental in getting the Trump administration to approve the Everglades reservoir in record time."
The green algae blooms have become a top issue this campaign season, with Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson blaming each other for not doing enough to prevent the slime.