GOP poll shows Carlos Giménez coasting to win in CD 26 Republican primary
Carlos Gimenez announces a new deal with FPL for wastewater treatment.

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Republicans are seeking to take the seat from U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Florida Politics has obtained polling data that shows Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez would be the runaway favorite in a Republican primary for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The survey, taken in October and commissioned by a national Republican organization, is surfacing one day before Giménez is expected to formally enter the race for a chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Giménez would join a Republican field that includes restaurateur Irina Vilariño and Omar Blanco, the former head of Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403.

A whopping 51% of those surveyed said they would back Giménez, with just 6% choosing Blanco and only 2% selecting Vilariño. Another 39% of voters were undecided.

But assuming that entire group shifted to either Blanco or Vilariño, they would still come up short of Giménez’s support.

The poll ran from Oct. 13 to 15 and sampled 400 likely voters. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. Democrats made up 37% of voters surveyed, while 34% were Republicans and 29% were Independents.

The survey also gave Giménez a 3-point margin over Mucarsel-Powell in the general election. He leads her 45% to 42%, according to the survey from that GOP organization.

Giménez also earned better favorability ratings than Mucarsel-Powell, with 42% viewing him favorably and 16% viewing him unfavorably. Mucarsel-Powell earned a 31% to 16% favorable/unfavorable split.

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) certainly plans on cutting into those numbers, releasing an ad late last week dubbing Giménez, “Corrupt Carlos.”

But it will be interesting to see how Giménez’ entry impacts the rest of the Republican field.

On Monday, Vilariño released a statement on the planned announcement from Giménez.

“I welcome Carlos to the race and I look forward to debating him. I know that Republican voters will want to learn how a person who endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and wanted to leave the Republican party in 2014 will have the conviction to defend the policies that are vital for the prosperity of our country and our community,” Vilariño said, before echoing some of the FDP attacks.

“I welcome the opportunity to contrast my record of creating jobs in the private sector and defending conservative principles with Giménez’s record of double-dipping government pensions, cronyism and corruption. People are tired of career politicians who are constantly on the prowl for the next taxpayer-funded gig. Now, more than ever, Congress needs members who will effect change and fight with conviction — not politicians looking to grow their government pensions and expand their insider relationships.”

Vilariño ended her statement by saying she has “no “doubt” Republican primary voters will support her.

But she and Blanco have not matched Mucarsel-Powell’s fundraising prowess. And while Vilariño is aggressively going after Giménez, she has courted controversy of her own. An investigation found Vilariño promoted various conspiracy theories on Twitter, including the Barack Obama birther conspiracy.

That has left the door open for Giménez to step in and potentially secure a spot in the general election. Republican leaders have reportedly courted Giménez to run for the seat, which Mucarsel-Powell won in 2018 by less than 2 percentage points. They’ll reportedly get their wish Wednesday.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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