Florida Influencer Poll: Insiders predict the winners in top primaries

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A shakeup in CD 15, a tight race in CD 19, and a couple of landslides in South Florida Senate races.

There are several races on the primary ballot where the outcome is anyone’s guess, but Florida Influencers are mostly in agreement as to who’ll win in all but a few big contests on Election Day.

In what is arguably the most consequential primary on the ballot, the top political minds in the state put U.S. Rep. Ross Spano on upset watch in Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

The freshman Republican is getting hammered from the right and Democrats are salivating at the chance to take him down in November if he manages to eke out a win on Tuesday.

That’s a big if, however, with two-thirds of those polled believing Scott Franklin will oust Spano. Democrats were the least confident in Spano, with just 23% saying he’ll survive the onslaught of negative ads — including a plea from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz — slamming him for the 2018 campaign loan scandal.

Nearly 60% of Republicans leaned toward Franklin, with GOP Influencers believing his endorsements from stalwart conservatives such as Gaetz and Polk Sheriff Grady Judd will be the difference-maker.

“Sheriff Judd proves he’s the most influential elected in Central Florida as his endorsement and ads help Franklin knock off Spano in CD 15,” one Influencer predicted.

In Florida’s 3rd Congressional District — the most crowded Republican primary in the state — two-thirds of Influencers say Kat Cammack will walk away with the W.

Her stock was highest among Democrats, with seven out of 10 saying she’ll emerge from the 10-person primary to succeed her former boss, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho. She’s also the pick for 60% of Independents and 58% of Republicans.

As is true in the polls, the second-place finisher is likely to be Judson Sapp, with 32% saying the second time is the charm for the Clay County business owner. No other candidate made it out of the low single digits.

The GOP contest in Florida’s 19th Congressional District is as much a mystery to insiders as outsiders, it seems, with Influencers backing Rep. Dane Eagle over Rep. Byron Donalds by a razor-thin 48-45 margin.

The pair are competing alongside seven other Republicans for a chance to succeed exiting U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, but just two other candidates even registered in the poll — Casey Askar and William “Fig” Figlesthaler. They pulled in 5% and 3% support, respectively.

Though Eagle won the top line, Republicans gave Donalds the edge, 52-42. Eagle made up the gap among Democrats, 62% of whom say he’ll make the transition from the state House to the U.S. House.

Though Influencers are convinced the contest will come down to the two state Representatives on the ballot, they expect the final vote tally to be close.

“I predict that the CD-19 GOP primary winner will get below 33% of the vote, showing again that Florida should not have gotten rid of primary runoff elections,” one Influencer said.

Influencers were nearly as split on the Broward County Sheriff race, where former Sheriff Scott Israel is vying to reclaim the seat from his appointed replacement, Tony Gregory.

A slim majority of Influencers said Gregory will win the nomination Tuesday, though Israel wasn’t far behind with 43% believing Broward will vote Israel back into office, while 4% say voters are fed up with the top two on the ballot and go for a fresh start with Al Pollack.

Democrats were the most uncertain. An even 50% went with Gregory and 47% picked Israel. Republicans were resolute — 91% say Gregory will be victorious. Israel, however, was a 30-point favorite among NPAs.

But just because Influencers believe Israel has a shot doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

“If Broward Dems elect Scott Israel after everything that happened, I give up,” one influencer told Florida Politics.

There was no uncertainty in another high-profile Broward primary — five out of six Influencers say Rep. Tina Polsky will overcome self-funding former Rep. Irv Slosberg in the race to replace Sen. Kevin Rader in Senate District 29.

Democrats and Republicans were equally convinced, with 90% putting their money down on Polsky. Independents, however, say it’s a toss-up.

Influencers, for the most part, admonished Slosberg for challenging Polsky in the first place.

“It’s annoying in the SD29 race that Irv Slosberg is throwing a million dollars of his own money into this race against a very well-qualified woman, Tina Polsky. Slosberg should be putting his money where it can do real good,” one Influencer said. “Support Patricia Sigman in her bid to flip a Senate seat from red to blue in central Florida. Think big picture Irv.”

Another South Florida race Florida Influencers say is a sure thing: Senate District 35.

The top minds in Florida politics were near-unanimous in predicting West Park Rep. Shevrin Jones will win the Democratic primary against former lawmakers Daphne Campbell, Cynthia Stafford and Barbara Watson.

More than nine in 10 Democrats said he’s a lock to succeed term-limited Sen. Oscar Braynon. Republicans were only slightly less optimistic with 89% saying he’ll cruise. Not a single Dem has faith in Campbell, who was ousted by now-Sen. Jason Pizzo two years ago, while a combined 8% say Stafford or Watson have a shot.

Influencers didn’t mince words on Campbell, with one claiming she “belongs in Florida’s political hall of shame.”

“She’s a pathological liar, self-dealer, and promoter of religious bigotry. If Miami-Dade County had a state attorney who was serious about prosecuting public corruption, she’d be in prison. If Barbara Watson’s late entry into the race gives Campbell a win, the public should never forgive her. “

The Republican primary for House District 55 is closer, though 61% of Influencers say Kaylee Tuck will overcome Ned Hancock in the two-way race. Independents were unanimous on her chances, while two-thirds of Democrats believe she’ll earn the nomination to replace term-limited Rep. Cary Pigman. Hancock’s best numbers came from his own party, though Republican Influencers are still backing Tuck 57-43.

In HD 120, where three Republicans are competing to succeed Rep. Holly Raschein, Islamorada Council member Jim Mooney is the favorite despite Rhonda Rebman Lopez outraising him by more than $100,000.

A full 60% of Influencers picked Mooney while Lopez garnered just 24% support. The rest was swallowed up by Alexandria Suarez. Money was the majority pick Democrats, Republicans and NPAs, cresting at 66% support among GOP Influencers. Lopez fared best among Independents, 40% of whom say she’ll move on to face Democratic nominee Clint Barras in November.


The Influencers who took part in this survey: Tom Alte, Jason Altmire, Phil Ammann, Allison Aubuchon, Roger Austin, Ashley Bauman, Geoffrey Becker, Wayne Bertsch, Alex Bickley, Taylor Biehl, Barney Bishop, Samantha Blair, Katie Bohnett, Ron Book, Reggie Cardozo, Bill Carlson, Kevin Cate, James Chan, Clayton Clemens, Brad Coker, Rachel Cone, Josh Cooper, Gus Corbella, Kevin Craig, Karen Cyphers, Jim Daughton, Claudia Davant, Juan delCerro, Hayden Dempsey, Pablo Diaz, Victor DiMaio, Andrew Dolberg, Charles Dudley, Pete Dunbar, Barry Edwards, Alia Faraj-Johnson, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Matt Florell, Shawn Foster, Towson Fraser, Don Gaetz, Steve Geller, Adam Giery, Julia Gill Woodward, Jennifer Green, Joel Greenberg, Marion Hammer, Nick Hansen, Abel Harding, Rich Heffley, Tasi Hogan, Jim Horne, Nick Janovsky, Eric Johnson, Jeff Johnson, Christina Johnson, Marva Johnson, Stafford Jones, Todd Josko, Eric Jotkoff, Fred Karlinsky, Joshua Karp, Colin Kirkland, John Konkus, Jeff Kottkamp, Beth Lerner, McKinley Lewis, Karis Lockhart, Shannon Love, John Lux, Beth Matuga, Clarence McKee, Kathy Mears, Ketchel Micah, Ed Moore, Dan Newman, Tim Nungesser, Sal Nuzzo, Rhett O’Doski, Rick Oppenheim, Meredith ORourke, Edie Ousley, Jenna Paladino, Alex Patton, Darryl Paulson, Anthony Pedicini, Juan Penalosa, Fred Piccolo, Ron Pierce, Noah Pransky, Cissy Proctor, Orlando Pryor, Bert Ralston, Foyt Ralston, David Ramba, Marc Reichelderfer, Darren Richards, Jim Rimes, Franco Ripple, Stephanie Rosendorf-Diaz, Evan Ross, Scott Ross, Ashley Ross, Jason Roth, Elnatan Rudolph, Andrew Rutledge, Ron Sachs, Meagan Salisbury, April Schiff, Pierce Schuessler, Jack Seiler, Stephen Shiver, Steve Simonides, Alex Sink, Patrick Slevin, Tim Stapleton, Mac Stipanovich, Eileen Stuart, Sarah Suskey, Kevin Sweeny, Allison Tant, Cory Tilley, Christian Ulvert, Jenn Ungru, Steve Vancore, Ashley Walker, Nancy Watkins, Screven Watson, Christian Weiss, Doug Wheeler, Susie Wiles, Gregory Wilson, Rick Wilson, Joe York, Christian Ziegler.

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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