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Rick Baker robo poll has mystery backer



Somebody is paying for a robo poll this week testing support for former Republican St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker against Democrat Charlie Crist in the soon-to-be open race for Congressional District 13 in southern Pinellas County.The mystery is who.

What we do know is that Baker is probably the only Republican with a shot at winning that district, now represented by Republican David Jolly but re-drawn to heavily favor Democrats. We know that Baker, currently working for businessman Bill Edwards, is seriously considering running for the seat, is talking with a lot of people, is hearing lots of encouragement from the likes for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, and is likely to make a decision within the next few weeks.

A new fundraising quarter starts Friday, which means Baker had no incentive to announce before then (He would report very little money on his first financial report, if he did), but he can't wait much longer if he wants to mount a serious campaign. We hear Baker is leaning toward running, but he is still talking to people and nothing has been decided.

So who is paying for the poll? Blogger/political consultant Peter Schorsch pays for automated polls, but said he hasn't done one in a few weeks. Nor has the Crist campaign. And if it were done on behalf of Baker it seems unlikely the National Republican Congressional Committee would rely on an inexpensive robo poll, rather than a more reliable survey with live callers.

This, incidentally, is not the only robo poll causing some speculation in south Pinellas. Ten days ago, a recorded survey asked voters about a possible race between state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Democrat Eric Lynn, a former Defense Department official running against Crist for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 13.

Could Lynn be looking to jump into a new contest?

"I am running for Congress and feel great about our campaign to represent the people of Pinellas in Washington and bring the Democratic values I've always held to Congress," said Lynn, who is scheduled to attend a fundraiser with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman this evening. "We're gaining grassroots leaders and fundraising support every day."

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 6:29pm]


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