A new poll shows nearly a quarter of Republicans in Florida’s 7th Congressional District want Lee Constantine as their Congressman.
The St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, shows Constantine, a Seminole County Commissioner and former state lawmaker, as the leader among six GOP candidates already in the race. That’s notable considering Constantine hasn’t so much as set up a Federal Election Commission account.
More than 23% of voters picked Constantine out of the list of Republican candidates in the mix. Behind Constantine, defense consultant Cory Mills boasted the support of more than 12% of respondents. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini had just 9% of the vote, with small business owner Erika Benfield at just over 7%. Rusty Roberts, the Chief of Staff to former U.S. Rep. John Mica, pulled in over 5% of the vote, while former Navy SEAL Brady Duke showed up with nearly 4%.
But the field remains fluid with more than 39% of voters still undecided.
Notably, when Constantine was left off the poll, that had little impact on the standing of candidates. Mills was the favorite, but of just over 13% of respondents. Sabatini remained under 12%. Roberts came in with 8% and Duke just under 8%. Benfield notably performed worse in the Constantine-free poll with 6%.
The bottom line is that Constantine’s entry in the race would siphon support from most candidates in the race, including self-described base favorites like Sabatini.
The poll was conducted on Monday and includes responses from 285 likely Republican voters living within the proposed CD 7 borders as passed by the Florida Legislature. Pollsters report a margin of error of 5.8 percentage points. The district as proposed covers all of Seminole County, a portion of Orange County in the University of Central Florida area, and a stretch of Volusia to the coast including Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach.
Notably, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the Legislature’s map a day after the poll was taken. But DeSantis cited issues with North Florida districts as opposed to jurisdictions in Central Florida, meaning the lines may remain fairly consistent in the middle of the state. The final boundaries will have to wait until at least late April to be decided.
The poll also measured support for former President Donald Trump in a potential comeback bid for the White House. It found almost 64% of likely GOP voters in the district want Trump to run for the GOP nomination in 2024.
Pitted head-to-head against DeSantis, a clear contender for the nod, the poll found Trump with the lead. About 43% said they would vote for the former President in a Primary compared to just north of 35% who would pick the Governor.
The CD 7 seat is held now by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat, but she is not seeking re-election. About 49.9% of voters in the district voted for Trump in the last presidential election while 48.7% favored Democrat Joe Biden. The open seat is expected to be one of the most important battlefield districts in the country and a primary opportunity for Republicans to flip a seat.