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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The Fla Insider Poll: Adam Hasner is early favorite to win GOP Sen nomination

He's an obscure former state House member competing against a former U.S. Senator and Florida Senate president, but dozens of smart Florida politicos see Adam Hasner as the favorite to win the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

These same political insiders, however, view former Sen. George LeMieux as the strongest general election candidate against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. And overwhelmingly they expect Nelson to win reelection.

Welcome to the debut of St. Petersburg Times' Florida Insider Poll, in which we periodically survey some of the savviest political minds in the state - professional strategists, fundraisers, lobbyists, and grass roots activists - about Florida political matters.

Our first survey focused on the U.S. Senate race and drew 79 respondents, including 42 Republicans, 32 Democrats and five independents. More than 70 percent of them expect Bill Nelson to be re-elected, including more than half of the Republicans who answered.

The poll was taken before anyone has seen how strong LeMieux and Hasner are at raising money, but 35 people predicted Hasner would win the GOP nomination, compared to 26 for Haridopolos, 14 for LeMieux and none for Mike McCalister. More than half of all respondents said Hasner was the most conservative candidate (including  more than half the Republicans), while 22 said Haridopolos, 14 said McCalister and 2 said LeMieux.

A strong plurality of our insiders - 37 - viewed LeMieux as the strongest general election candidate, compared to 27 for Hasner, 11 for Haridopolos, and 2 for McAlister. But among Republicans, 16 said Hasner was strongest in the general, 13 said LeMieux and nine said Haridopolos.

This should be a fun regular feature, so don't hesitate to offer suggestions, constructive or otherwise.

This week's insiders: Caitlin Fishman, Shannon Gravitte, Kathy Mears, Tom Lee, Alex Heckler, Frank Tsamatoules, Chris Hand, Andrew Weinstein, Susannah Randolph, Brian Crowley, Ana Navarro, Dan Gelber, Gus Corbella, Scott Peelen, Cory Tilley, Al Hoffman, Don Hinkle, Ann Herberger, John Stemberger, David Johnson, Kevin Cate, Steve Schale, Mark Ferrulo, Greg Truax, Darryl Paulson, Jeff Garcia, Kenneth Quinnell, Jim Davis, Karl Koch, Jim Rimes, Scott Arceneaux, Rich Heffley, Greg Turbeville, Apryl Marie Fogel, Mark Gilbert, John Wehrung, Ron Greenstein, Sarah Bascom, Brian Ballard, Marion Hammer, Buddy Shorstein, Alberto Martinez, Dan McLaughlin, Kathleen Shanahan, Nancy McGowan, Rick Wilson, Henry Kelley, Todd Wilder, Joe Perry, Ellen Freidin, Aubrey Jewett, Carlos Curbelo, Jill Chamberlin, Sally Bradshaw, Brett Doster, Van Poole, Bernie Campbell, David Beattie, Amber Stoner, Karen Unger, John Morgan, Jamie Wilson, Erin VanSickle, Mac Stipanovich, Dave Aronberg, Jamie Miller, John Dowless, Ricky Arriola, Eric Jotkoff, Roger Stone, Tyler Hudson, Meredith ORourke, John Rood, Screven Watson, Steve Geller, Kirk Pepper, Chris Ingram. Jim Kitchens, David Bishop.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 5:21pm]

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