Janet Long, Charlie Justice lead Republican challengers in Pinellas County commission races

Janet Long
Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus also leads while Laura Hine and Stephanie Meyer are locked in a close race for School board.

Both Pinellas County Commission incumbents on the ballot this year comfortably lead their Republican challenges going into Election Day, according to the most recent St. Pete Polls survey taken Monday.

District 1 incumbent Democrat Janet Long leads Republican challenger Larry Ahern by 8 points at 50% to 42%.

Democrat Charlie Justice leads his Republican challenger, Tammy Sue Vasquez, by 12 points in District 3 at 53% to 41%.

Another incumbent, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus, leads her Democratic challenger Dan Helm 50% to 44%. This is the Republican’s first election. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her to the post in May after former Supervisor Deborah Clark announced she was retiring earlier this year.

In the open race for Pinellas County School Board member in District 1, Laura Hine leads Stephanie Meyer narrowly and within the poll’s margin of error at 40% to 39% with 22% heading to the polls still undecided.

Both Long and Justice are enjoying more votes crossing the aisle to vote for them than their Republican challengers. Just over 16% of Republican voters said they planned to vote or had already voted for Long while only 10% of Democrats indicated support for Ahern, a former state Representative.

Justice’s cross-party lead is even higher, with 21% of Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for him compared to just 10% of Democrats for Vasquez.

Both also lead among independent voters — Long at 52% to 41% and Justice at 54% to 41%.

A third commission race for the open District 7 seat between School Board member Rene Flowers and independent candidate Maria Scruggs was not polled. Flowers is widely considered the far-away frontrunner in that race.

In the Supervisor of Elections race, which is partisan but typically defies party allegiance, Helm also is capturing cross-party support. Nearly 18% of Democrats indicated support while only 12% of Republicans said they were voting or had voted for Helm. Marcus also leads among independent voters 52% to 44%.

In the school board race, one of two on the ballot in Pinellas County this election, the vote may come down to the wire.

While school board races are non-partisan, Hine has earned backing from Democrats and Democratic groups while Meyer, a private school teacher who supports increasing school choice options, is backed by the GOP.

Surprisingly though, Hine actually trails among Democratic voters at 40% for Meyer to 38% for her. Meanwhile, Republicans are breaking for Hine 42% to 37%. Hine also has the edge among independent voters by less than 1 point at 39.4% to 38.8%.

Hine has lost significant ground. A St. Pete Polls survey taken just after the August primary put Hine 7 points ahead.

A second School Board race in District 7, between Karl Nurse and Caprice Edmond, was not polled.

The poll was conducted Monday among 1,520 likely voters and has a 2.5% margin of error.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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