A new poll shows Republican Cory Mills neck-and-neck with Anthony Sabatini in the Republican Primary in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The news comes as a PAC launches a major ad buy opposed to Sabatini’s candidacy.
A St. Pete Polls survey of likely Republican voters in CD 7 shows combat veteran Mills leading an eight-person GOP field with 23% of the vote. But Sabatini, a state Representative, sits almost even with him at 22%.
The two candidates stand out from the field. But Brady Duke, the top fundraiser in the contest, shows up with 12%.
Rusty Roberts, a Chief of Staff for former U.S. Rep. John Mica, was the choice of 9% of respondents. Erika Benfield and Ted Edwards registered with 5% support and Al Santos and Scott Sturgill each secured about 3%.
Pollsters conducted the poll for Florida Politics and spoke to 205 likely GOP Primary voters on Aug. 5. The poll has a 6.8 percentage point margin of error.
Of note, the poll found Mills performing better among voters who already sent in a vote-by-mail ballot. Almost 24% of those voters supported Mills, compared to just over 21% for Sabatini and about 14% for Duke. About 20% of those polled said they already cast their ballots.
Mills and Sabatini performed particularly well with female voters, with Mills winning over 25% of women polled and Sabatini securing the support of 24%.
Sabatini overperformed among voters ages 30 to 49, where about 36% plan to vote for the conservative firebrand. But no one polled under 30 would support him. He and Mills split voters aged 50 to 69, while voters over 70 break for Mills 27% to 20%.
The survey results were published just as an outside group invests heavily in the district against Sabatini. American Liberty Action PAC was formed in July and has started spending in the district.
Ad Impact reports the committee just reserved more than $360,000 in broadcast TV ads and $1,800 for a round of radio advertising set to run on talk radio in the area from Aug. 9-15 in the Orlando market.
The ads attack Sabatini for being the lone Republican vote in the Florida House against a budget signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and for years spent as a registered Democrat when he first registered to vote.
Those ads will reach a politically engaged audience in the Central Florida area where the race will be decided.
Candidates are running to succeed U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat who isn’t seeking re-election. A new congressional map in Florida reshaped the seat from one Democrat Joe Biden carried to one that Republican Donald Trump won.