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Rick Scott, Adam Putnam big winners at Clearwater Chamber straw poll

Gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, U.S. Senate hopeful Rick Scott and Attorney General contender Ashley Moody all came out on top in a straw poll conducted Friday by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Educating our members on candidates who support business issues and giving an opportunity for this type of interaction is a priority for our Chamber,” said Katie E. Cole, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce chairwoman. “We appreciate the staff of the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections who facilitated the Straw Poll.”

The chamber released the top two vote-getters, which indicate strong preference for the GOP slate of candidates.

For example, Putnam won the poll with 36 percent of the vote, but Republican primary opponent Ron DeSantis came in second place with 21 percent. Similarly, Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley won with 39 percent, followed by fellow Republican candidate Matt Caldwell with 22 percent.

But in other contests the top two felt more like a general election match-up. Scott took 52 percent of the vote, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson winning 44 percent.

U.S. House candidate George Buck, a Republican running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, narrowly beat incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist in the straw poll.

In Florida’s 12th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Gus Bilirakis took 64 percent of the vote, but Democrat Stephen Perenich came in second place with 23 percent of the vote, ahead of Democratic fundraising leader Chris Hunter.

Moody took 57 percent of the vote in the Attorney General contest, with Democrat Sean Shaw in a distant second with 22 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis came out ahead with 66 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring’s 34 percent.

In state Senate District 16, Republican Ed Hooper took 65 percent to Democrat Amanda Murphy’s 33 percent.

Jennifer Webb, a Democrat running for state House in District 69, was the only Democrat to beat a Republican, Jeremy Bailie, in the straw poll. In District 66, Republican Nick DiCeglie bested Democrat Alex Hereen.

State Reps. James Grant, Chris Sprowls, Chris Latvala and Wengay Newton all bested competitors.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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