Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ford, Foster lead mayoral pack, according to new poll

ST. PETERSBURG — Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster have emerged as frontrunners in the St. Petersburg mayor's race, according to a new poll that puts the two lawyers and former council members in a statistical tie for first place in the crowded field of 10.

Ford garnered support of 22 percent and Foster got 21 percent of 400 registered city voters in a poll commissioned by the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

Deveron Gibbons and Scott Wagman were essentially tied for third place, with 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Roughly 23 percent of voters said they were still undecided. The poll, conducted Monday, has a margin of error of 3 to 3.5 percent.

"People are obviously making up their minds about the candidates," said Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. "With this amount of time left, it looks like it is down to these top four candidates."

The results are a far cry from the indecision expressed by voters less than two months ago, when a St. Petersburg Times poll found 61 percent of voters did not have a preferred candidate.

Ford, Foster, Gibbons and Wagman have all since made significant gains.

Ford and Foster saw the most growth. Her support grew by 12 percentage points; his grew by 13 points.

Wagman's campaign also seemed to be gaining momentum. His base grew by 6 percentage points.

Gibbons, however, carved out only 2 percent more.

For months, political observers have questioned whether the first-time candidates' bulging bank accounts could push them into the general election.

Gibbons, a corporate executive, and Wagman, a real estate investor, have far outpaced their opponents in fundraising and spending. For example, Wagman has accumulated $237,901, including a $140,000 personal loan. Foster's campaign kitty stands at $74,121.

Foster and Ford both attributed their success to organized volunteer efforts and robust campaign platforms. Neither viewed the poll results as an opportunity to slow down.

"No one is going to buy this," said Foster, 46. "This is how you do it: ground game, ground game."

Ford, 52, came in second place in the 2001 race against Mayor Rick Baker.

"Folks know me and they trust me," she said. "This is not the time for someone people don't know."

The four frontrunners were among the first candidates to enter the race. The poll shows the remaining six candidates have a long journey if they hope to win one of the top two spots in the Sept. 1 primary.

Business owner Larry Williams, 64, received 6 percent of the vote, up from four percent in June. Council member Jamie Bennett, 57, got 5 percent of the vote, up from 3 percent. Retired lawyer Ed Helm, 64, and restaurateur John Warren, 60, each received 1 percent.

"It's down to two weeks of hard work," said Williams. "I am not discouraged."

He plans to start airing as many as three different television ads starting today or Thursday.

"There are still six horses in the race and I believe I am going to get there and if I get there, I am going to win," he said. "Assuming my ads are good and people see them and they get that fuzzy feeling, I think that would help."

Wagman openly questioned the accuracy of the poll results.

"It's a very small sample," he said.

Still, he said, he plans to sharpen his campaign message over the next few days.

"I'm the executive officer that will make the changes that we need," he said. "The mayor is the chief executive … . City Council doesn't teach you how to do that."

Gibbons, 36, did not respond to a request for comment. Shortly after the poll results were published Tuesday, his campaign sent out a message to supporters on Facebook announcing a Saturday morning rally.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

Know Your Candidates

A guide to the candidates for mayor and City Council is at elections.tampabay.com.

Ford, Foster lead mayoral pack, according to new poll 08/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.