Mitch Perry Report for 1.21.16 — New Florida Senate poll is interesting

Mitch Perry

A GOP presidential poll released Wednesday by Florida Atlantic University shows Donald Trump leading in Florida in the March 15 presidential primary, with a stunning 48 percent share of the vote. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are well behind at 11 and 10 percent, putting them in third and fourth places, respectively (Ted Cruz is second with 16 percent).

Just as interesting was that the FAU poll (of 371 Democrats and 345 Republicans) found in the U.S. Senate race, which hasn’t had a lot of good polling to date.

For the first time this cycle, David Jolly is showing serious strength in the GOP race with 28 percent support. That’s 20 percentage points higher in the survey than top challengers Ron DeSantis and Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Jolly has always been the best general election candidate of this bunch. There have always been two questions about his candidacy: Would his moderate stances on some issues hurt him with the GOP base, and could a well funded and possibly bigger name candidate jump in the race? The jury is still out on both.

In the race for the Democratic Senate seat, Alan Grayson, Democrat holds a 7-point lead (27 to 20 percent) over U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. With the caveat that the primary election is a long, long eight months away, this survey is provocative.

The Democratic Establishment in Florida — and in Washington, for that matter — is 100 percent behind Murphy, the second-term congressman from Jupiter. It has assessed that Grayson is the Bernie Sanders of Florida, simply unelectable in a general election.

Whether that’s true or not, one should hardly take any assumption that the Florida Democratic Party Establishment has as the gospel.

No doubt Grayson can be his own worst advocate. Why else would Barney Frank come out and endorse Murphy, when he’s much more ideologically aligned with the Orlando congressman? If you’re looking for someone who comes across nicer on TV, Murphy is your man. Grayson is partisan. But hello — this is a primary election.

Again, it’s way too soon to make any predictions, but the idea that Florida Democrats would embrace Murphy simply because he’s received endorsements from virtually every Democrat in the state doesn’t mean that the rank-and-file primary voter is going to follow suit.

Yes, Grayson has better name recognition, which could be a factor in his lead here. The fact is, nearly a majority of Democrats (45 percent) tell FAU pollsters that they are undecided — as do 50 percent of Republicans with their candidates.

In other news …

Generally, elections for tax appraiser are like those for clerk of the courts. Not the case in Hillsborough County this year, though. Take the Todd Jones v. Bob Henriquez contest.

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Florida Department of Environmental Protection head Jon Steverson is controversial to say the least. The Rick Scott pick for DEP was finally confirmed in the Florida Senate yesterday, but not without being pressed on a few hot topics.

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Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner told a Senate committee on Wednesday that the plan to get online voter registration up and running by October 2017 is going a-OK.

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Kathy Castor and Mark Sharpe announced a bid for a federal “TechHire” grant for the university area, with the funds intended to develop a homegrown high technology workforce and drive up higher-income employment in the area.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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