Keith Perry leads in early poll of CD 3 Republicans
Sen. Keith Perry. Image via Phil Sears.

Legislature 20 ps 042817
He hasn't entered the race — yet.

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho retiring from Congress, the Republican primary for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District is no longer a snoozer.

Candidates had already signed up to run before Yoho announced he wouldn’t seek reelection, and the past week has seen a couple more throw their hats in the ring.

But a new poll conducted by Clearview Research has identified the front-runner in the CD 3 contest, and it’s not one of the declared candidates.

Gainesville state Sen. Keith Perry leads the six-person field with 35% support. The second-place candidate, Judson Sapp, is the pick for 9% of likely Republican voters.

Sapp, who ran for the seat in 2018, has been culling support from well-known Florida Republicans, including two members the state’s congressional delegation.

Behind him are Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, Amy Pope Wells, Joe Millado and Matthew Raines, none of whom broke 5%.

“With no other contender even in double digits, Keith Perry holds a commanding lead over all other potential candidates for Congressional District 3’s seat,” pollster Steven Vancore said.

“We polled only likely voting Republican voters as this race will be decided in the Republican primary in this overwhelmingly Republican district. We asked the names of those candidates recently mentioned in the media since Congressman Yoho announced that he will not run for reelection,” Vancore added.

Though Perry’s lead is large, there’s plenty of room for change as nearly half of those polled said they were unsure who they would support come Aug. 18.

There’s also the fact that Perry hasn’t expressed interest in running for Congress — not publicly, at least.

If he were to seek a promotion to D.C., he would have to resign his current post, putting his District 8 seat in the state Senate up for grabs.

The choice likely wouldn’t be greeted with open arms by Senate Republicans as CD 3 is a GOP lock while SD 8 would be a prime flip opportunity, especially in a presidential election year.

CD 3 covers Alachua, Clay, Putnam, Bradford and Union counties with parts of Marion also included.

The Clearview Research poll was conducted Dec. 16-17 and received responses from 401 likely Republican primary voters.

Per the pollster, ”a standard bell-curve distribution cannot be used and a margin of error cannot be calculated as it is predicated on both a random and representative population.”

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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