Bill McKibben Renewable Energy

In this file photo, environmental and climate activist Bill McKibben speaks to the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt., on Feb. 7, 2012.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff on Monday won the backing of leading national climate activist Bill McKibben, who took a swing in his endorsement at the former Colorado lawmaker's chief opponent in the upcoming June primary.

“Andrew Romanoff will fight for clean energy,” said McKibben, a co-founder of the 350.org climate organization, in a statement released by Romanoff's campaign.

He added: “And I’m willing to bet he’ll never drink a glass of fracking fluid just to prove he’s tight with the oil industry.”

The jab was directed at former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who famously boasted during 2013 Senate committee testimony that he took a swig of fracking fluid to demonstrate its safety.

A spokesman for Hickenlooper's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.

Four Democrats are running for the chance to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who is seeking a second term.

In addition to Hickenlooper and Romanoff, first-time candidates Lorena Garcia and Michelle Ferrigno Warren have spots on the primary ballot following court rulings that they gathered enough petition signatures amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite collecting fewer signatures than required.

Hickenlooper, a former geologist, has taken heat from the left for his coziness with the fossil fuel industry and his opposition to the Green New Deal, a sweeping proposal to combat climate change that has Romanoff's support.

"When it comes to the environmental movement, Colorado is now the marquee race. Andrew is leading the fight for a Green New Deal against not one but two fossil-fuel funded opponents," Romanoff's campaign said Monday in a fundraising email.

While Hickenlooper has rejected the Green New Deal as an overly ambitious approach destined to run aground in Congress, he calls climate change "the biggest threat of our time" and has pledged to "bring an unrelenting focus on combating climate change and growing our green economy" to the Senate.

Gardner, on the other hand, calls the Green New Deal "a radical move toward a socialist energy and economic policy" and labeled a nightmarish video about climate change released by the Romanoff campaign "insane."

McKibben's endorsement is the latest received by Romanoff from grassroots climate groups. The Sunrise Movement and Climate Hawks endorsed Romanoff last winter, and on Friday former Senate candidate Diana Bray, a psychologist and climate activist, threw her support behind her former rival after a judge ruled she didn't qualify for the primary.

McKibben is scheduled to join Romanoff for a virtual town hall at 5 p.m. Tuesday at andrewromanoff.com/live.

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