Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite holds a seven-point lead in the Primary for Palm Beach County Commission District 6, according to a polling memo released by his campaign on Tuesday.
According to the poll, conducted by SEA Polling and Design, Willhite pulls ahead by 22 points once voters are given more information about his and the other candidates’ backgrounds. Both measures fall outside of the poll’s margin of error.
Additionally, the poll found 47% of voters were familiar with Willhite, which matches the name ID score for incumbent Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who is vacating the seat after her current term.
“It’s clear that voters recognize my lifetime of service to our country and community and are excited to have a Palm Beach County Commissioner who puts public service over politics,” Willhite said.
Willhite, a U.S. Navy veteran and career firefighter, is wrapping up his third term in the House. He previously served on the Wellington Village Council.
While eligible to serve an additional term in the House, he announced last year he would not seek re-election and would instead run for the Commission.
He faces Michelle McGovern and Silvia Sharps in the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary. Republican Sara Baxter also is running for the seat and will likely face the Democratic nominee in the November General Election.
The strong polling numbers follow contributions totaling $100,000 from the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County to his political committee, Floridians for Public Safety. The union has indicated this is an initial investment and they’re planning to sustain their support for Willhite through November.
Entering May, Willhite had about $262,000 on hand in his committee and an additional $50,000 on hand in his official campaign account.
Willhite also recently submitted 1,724 qualifying petitions to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections in an effort to qualify for the ballot by petition rather than paying the fee.
“From his petitions to the polling data, it’s clear that Matt has the grassroots support and momentum he’ll need to win this race. We’re looking forward to spreading Matt’s vision for Palm Beach County throughout the summer,” said Democratic consultant Michael Worley, who serves as a Senior Adviser to Willhite’s campaign.
The internal poll was conducted May 3-8 by SEA Polling and Design, a Tampa-based polling firm headed by Tom Eldon. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.