Major Florida Teachers Union Endorses Reno's Opponent

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - Janet Reno's campaign for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor suffered a setback on Thursday.

The Florida Education Association, a major player in Florida Democratic Party politics, endorsed Tampa Attorney Bill McBride for the Democratic nomination, in what many consider a surprise announcement.

The Democrat who wins the primary will run against incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.

Reno had sought the union's endorsement, but even without it, recent opinion polls indicate she is still the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Other Democrats in the race are state Sen. Darryl Jones and state Rep. Lois Frankel.

Despite the FEA's endorsement, McBride is considered a long shot to defeat Reno for the nomination. The statewide primary election is set for September 10th .

Pat Tornillo, head of the FEA's Miami affiliate, told the Miami Herald the union was impressed with McBride even though he has never held elective office.

"I think he's forthright, he's strong, and he's going to be very strong on education," Tornillo said.

The union has 120,000 members.

Some analysts say the FEA's endorsement of McBride's is another sign that the Florida Democratic Party establishment is leery of a Reno candidacy and wants a candidate with fewer negatives.

"This is a plum endorsement. In a campaign of this scope, this is an endorsement you work for," McBride's spokesperson Kathy Putnam said in a statement.

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