Incumbents appear safe in races for Pinellas County Sheriff and Supervisor of Elections, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls.
Republican Sheriff Bob Gualtieri leads his Democratic challenger Eliseo Santana with 56.5% of the vote compared to Santana’s 34%. More than 9% of voters are still undecided.
Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus, who was recently appointed to fill the position after her predecessor, Deborah Clark, retired, 47% to 41% lead over Democratic challenger Dan Helm. Nearly 12% of voters in that race are still undecided.
Both candidates enjoy overwhelming support from within their own parties, but claim a healthy portion of voters from opposite parties and independent voters.
More than 83% of polled Republicans support Gualtieri while 62% of Democrats favor Santana. Still, Gualtieri claimed 29.5% of Democratic voters in the poll and more than 57% of independents.
Likewise, Marcus, a Republican, claimed 74% support among conservative voters while Helm managed just 67% support from his party. She also lead among independent voters 45% to 40%.
For challengers to succeed, they’d need to appeal to larger portions of Democratic and independent voters.
Gualtieri’s 22 point lead will likely be difficult to bridge. Gualtieri has been in office since 2012 and easily won reelection in 2016. He also heads the Florida Sheriff’s Association, which gives him access to a broad network of financial support.
Gualtieri has banked nearly $110,000 in his official campaign account compared to less than $34,000 for Santana.
Helm also trails in campaign finance, raising just $58,000 compared to Marcus’ more than $85,000. She also has support from her predecessor, an endorsement that carries heavy weight in races for constitutional offices.