Despite not declaring for the race, Republican Sen. Greg Evers is the top choice among primary voters in Florida’s 1st Congressional District according to a poll conducted by a “grassroots advocacy organization” headed up by former Florida Division of Elections senior attorney Emmett “Bucky” Mitchell IV.
The Citizens for a Just Government poll, first reported by Derek Cosson of The Pulse, asked 4,000 likely Republican voters their opinion on five Republicans who could replace U.S. Rep. Steve Miller, who announced his retirement last month: Evers, Shalimar Rep. Matt Gaetz, Brian Frazier, Cris Dosev and Mark Wichern.
Evers led the pack with 23.4 percent of respondents saying they support him, followed by Gaetz, who announced he would run for the seat last month, at 13.2 percent. The other three Republicans polled in the low single digits, with fifth GOP candidate John Mills left off the questionnaire.
Most voters — 58.3 percent — said they were undecided.
The Baker Republican also led in favorability.
A third of respondents said they had a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of the veteran Florida Senator, and another 33.3 percent said they were neutral. Only 13 percent had an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion, with a fifth saying they had no opinion.
Asked the same of Gaetz, who announced he had taken in $350,000 in contributions shortly after filing, 17.2 percent had a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion and 33.7 percent had a neutral outlook. His negatives came in slightly higher, however, with 18.6 percent voicing “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” feelings of the three-term District 4 representative.
Evers also had a 25-to-15 edge among voters in a hypothetical head-to-head against Gaetz, with 60 percent undecided.
Citizens for Just Government said their slice of Republican voters was randomized from those with 100 percent participation in 1st District primary elections in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and was conducted from March 24 through March 26. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
The group formed in mid-February as a nonprofit corporation to “investigate, challenge and present solutions to public ethics problems that, if left unchecked, threaten to compromise a just democracy that serves all citizens equitably.”
Citizens’ designation as a 501(c)(4) allows it to engage voters or lobby for specific legislation related to its purpose, but disallows it from financially backing or expressly endorsing a candidate.