A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll suggests Charlie Crist may be widening his lead over Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate race.
Where other recent polls showed Crist barely edging out Rubio, the June 9-13 survey of 607 likely voters by the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute and Cherry Communications found 42 percent backing Crist, 31 percent Rubio and 14 percent Meek. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
It also found Rick Scott leading Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, 35 percent to 30 percent; and both Republicans leading Democrat Alex Sink and independent Lawton "Bud" Chiles III. For the general election, Scott and McCollum were favored by 31 percent and 30 percent respectively, while Chief Financial Officer Sink drew 26 percent and Chiles 15 percent.
"Interestingly, our poll also shows immigration and property taxes to be in the top three issues concerning Floridians for the first time in several years," said Marian Johnson, executive vice president of political operations for the chamber. "Though the economy and job creation will certainly be weighing heavily on voters' minds going into the 2010 election cycle, education and the oil spill in the gulf are now two of the most important issues to voters and will become increasingly important on a statewide level."
Chiles will only help GOP, fundraiser says
The relatively strong showing by Chiles, a lifelong Democrat and son of the former governor, explains why so many Democrats fear the developer and Chiles family foundation president could take enough Democratic votes to ensure Scott or McCollum wins the governor's race. Chiles has little chance of beating Sink in the primary, but said he wanted to run as an independent because he is fed up with campaigns fueled by special-interest money.
"Bud Chiles is nothing more than a tool of the Republican Party. The only role he would play in this election is being the only path for a Republican being governor of Florida in 2010," said Miami lawyer Kirk Wagar, a top fundraiser. "I'd like to know who gave him the advice to do it. He's a nice enough fellow, but he's got absolutely no qualifications to be governor except for his last name. It really is almost sad. … Max Linn was more credible than him."
One cent could sway Polk County race
Know the saying that every penny counts? Believe it. On Friday, Republican state House candidate Neil Combee learned he couldn't run for a Polk County state House seat as planned because he wrote a check to the state for $1,781.81 — instead of the required filing fee of $1,781.82.
State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, could be spared a tough primary as a result.
Combee is appealing and told the Lakeland Ledger he mailed his check Wednesday and asked state election officials Friday if everything was okay.
"I called during the day to ask why my name wasn't listed as qualified, and they shot back that they were busy and to watch the Internet," he said. "I had my cell phone on all day and it could have been easily taken care of, but maybe they were happy to run out the time."
Weatherford lists top targeted seats
State Rep. Will Weatherford, the Wesley Chapel Republican in line to be House speaker in two years, on Saturday identified the seven top targeted seats held by Democrats: Bill Heller of St. Petersburg, Janet Long of Seminole, Keith Fitzgerald of Bradenton, Ron Saunders of Key West, Debbie Boyd of Newberry and Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda of Tallahassee.