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The Diaz-Balarts withdraw Charlie Crist endorsement

Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart have pulled their endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate.

Lincoln offered few details as to why, just that Crist had "left us no alternative and he knows why."

From Crist spokeswoman Andrea Saul: "Gov. Crist is enthused by the support he continues to receive across the state for next year's primary. He looks forward to working with the Diaz-Balart's and the entire congressional delegation to better the lives of Floridians as Florida's next U.S. senator."

The move is a significant blow to the governor's campaign, which has struggled in recent weeks with sliding poll numbers. Diaz-Balart said the withdrawal has nothing to do with Crist's recent political performance, and in fact, said the the decision was made weeks ago. But their names were only recently pulled off Crist's webpage. He said the two Miami Republicans are unlikely to endorse anyone else in the race -- including former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

The pair doesn't take endorsements lightly -- backing Bill McCollum in the Senate Republican primary in 2004 against the eventual winner, Mel Martinez.

"We take our endorsements seriously, but the governor knows why we withdrew and he left us with no alternative,' Lincoln Diaz-Balart said.

It was just last July that the brothers enthusiastically threw their support behind Crist, with Mario Diaz-Balart saying Crist "is exactly the leader that we need and I look forward to supporting and campaigning with him."

Crist even considered Lincoln for the temp Senate job that eventually went to his aide, George LeMieux. Diaz-Balart said the fact he didn't get the nod didn't have anything to do with the decision either.

The third of South Florida's three influential Cuban American Republicans, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has already said she won't endorse in the GOP Senate primary -- or in the general election -- in deference to Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Whoever wins the GOP primary -- Crist or Rubio -- would likely face off against Meek, whom Ros-Lehtinen said largely stayed out of her congressional race in 2008.

"Kendrick was a gentleman and I'm a lady back to him," the Miami Republican said, noting that "despite all the nasty bloggers egging him on," Meek was mostly uninvolved in the challenge mounted by Democrat Annette Taddeo. Naked Politics at the time reported Meek did donate to Taddeo, though he and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were criticized at the time for not doing more to support three Democratic challengers who took on Miami's three Cuban-American Republicans.