Photo via daggettforgovernor.com.
Chris Daggett, the Independent candidate for governor, picked up a major endorsement today from the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The group chose Daggett, a former DEP commissioner under Republican Gov. Tom Kean and former regional administrator for the EPA, for what it described as his long record of fighting pollution and sprawl. It gave as examples his work against the proposed Westway transportation and development project in Manhattan and efforts to cut pollution in the Niagara River, and, in New Jersey, his fight against ocean dumping at a site off Sandy Hook, protection of the Great Swamp, and work toward a substantial polluter-financed Superfund cleanup deal in Atlantic City.
The club had never before endorsed an Independent candidate, and the move could hurt Gov. Jon Corzine, who commented to the Star-Ledger for a story today that “if it ends up drawing the race to my major opponent, I think they’re going to be very unhappy with what the outcome is.”
Last month, the Sierra Club released a 12-page report outlining its view of Corzine’s time in office, criticizing his administration for cutting DEP funding and moving to close state parks, weakening toxic cleanup standards and seeming to favor developers, promoting nuclear energy, and diminishing protections in the Pinelands and Highlands regions. While the club had endorsed Corzine in his run against Republican Doug Forrester, the governor “has not lived up to our expectations,” Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said when the report was released. Corzine’s camp continues to tout the governor’s largely well-regarded Energy Master Plan, participation in a regional carbon cap-and-trade initiative, and support for solar energy and “green jobs.”
Republican Chris Christie’s camp did not lament their missed endorsement, but instead pointed out that the club, once behind Corzine, had broken ranks. Christie has pledged to make further cuts to the DEP if elected. In a recent press release, he ridiculed Corzine for placing a moratorium on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs to protect a struggling shorebird.
Today’s endorsement was apparently a curveball for the Press of Atlantic City, which reported earlier that the group would choose Corzine or Christie, ignoring Daggett’s chances entirely.
Daggett does still seems like a long shot in the governor’s race — he has garnered less than 10 percent of votes in most polls but qualifies for matching public funds. He will also participate alongside his powerful rivals in some public debates.
“As someone who has worked closely with the Sierra Club on numerous occasions over the past 25 years, I know they share my belief that the best way to protect our precious natural resources is by making decisions based on the best science and sound public policy,’’ the Bernards Township resident said at a press conference at the Statehouse, according to a statement on his website.
Click below for a video of today’s announcement.