Blue wave? Democratic Cabinet nominees up in new Florida Chamber poll


A new poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce brought good news for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, but the three other statewide candidates joining them on the November ballot are also in prime position to topple GOP hegemony.

In addition to the U.S. Senate Race and Governor’s, Floridians will be replacing term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi and term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the fall. Also on the ballot is sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, who is running for a full term after being appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Scott last year.

In the AG race Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw, also the state’s former insurance consumer advocate, leads Republican nominee Ashley Moody, a former prosecutor and circuit court judge, by 2 percentage points, 35-33 percent. Another 20 percent of voters said they were undecided, while 9 percent favor unaffiliated candidate Jeffrey Siskind of Wellington.

The Florida Chamber measure is one of the first post-primary polls of the AG race to show Shaw with a lead. Moody scored a double-digit win over Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and Shaw trounced Odessa attorney Ryan Torrens. A prior poll of the race, conducted by Public Policy Polling showed Moody with a 3-point edge, 44-41 percent, while a St. Pete Polls survey showed her up 46-44 percent.

Though Moody has raked in loads more money than Shaw, her expensive primary battle left her trailing Shaw in cash on hand, with about $600,000 on hand for Moody and $810,000 on hand for Shaw as of Sept. 21.

In the Ag Commissioner race, medical marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried leads Lehigh Acres state Rep. Matt Caldwell by 5 percentage points, 42-37 percent. Fried easily won the three-way Democratic primary to succeed term-limited Republican Adam Putnam with 59 percent of the vote while Caldwell took a plurality of the vote in the four-way Republican contest.

Fried had about $175,000 on hand between her campaign and committee accounts on Sept. 21, putting her well behind Caldwell’s combined war chest of $920,000.

CFO Jimmy Patronis, the only incumbent Cabinet member on the ballot, fared better than his fellow Republican. The Chamber found him tied with former Margate state Sen. Jeremy Ring at 38 percent each with 20 percent of voters undecided. Write-in candidate Richard Dembinsky is also vying for the seat and could partially account for why the Chamber’s measure does not add up to 100.

The tie game in the CFO race comes despite Patronis having raised being one of the best-funded non-gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. His $5.4 million in overall fundraising and $3.3 million in on-hand cash trounces Ring’s numbers, which stood at $1.33 million raised and $473,000 banked as of Sept. 21.

Ring has been adamant that neither fundraising nor endorsements will decide the contest. The last Democrat to hold a spot on the Cabinet was Alex Sink, who served one term as CFO before vacating the seat for her unsuccessful bid to be Florida’s Governor in 2010.

The Chamber poll is the first measure of the Cabinet race in some time. A Chamber poll from June showed Patronis with a 9-point lead, 40-31 percent, while a slightly more recent measure from Public Policy Polling showed Ring with a 40-39 percent edge.

The Florida Chamber Poll was conducted Sept. 19 through Sept. 24 and received responses from 622 voters, 41.5 percent of whom were registered Democrats, while 40.5 percent were Republicans and 18 percent not belonging to one of the major parties.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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