Poll: GOP Nomination to Take on Bill Nelson 'Wide Open'
Around the State
A poll released Tuesday by Sunshine State Communications, a firm with connections to prominent Republicans, revealed that Florida Republicans have yet to get behind a candidate who will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 with any voracity.
The poll found that almost two-thirds -- 64 percent -- of likely primary voters were undecided on who they wanted to see take on Nelson, who has been in the Senate since first being elected in 2000.
"With the election over one year away, any candidate can become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Florida,” said Buzz Jacobs, the co-founder of Sunshine State Communications who led Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s efforts in the Southeast during the 2008 campaign cycle.
The four leading candidates in the race combined to take 24 percent of the total surveyed.
State Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island beat the other candidates in the race who have already announced. Haridopolos, who represents parts of Brevard, Indian River, Osceola and St. Lucie counties in the Senate, took 11 percent in the poll. Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009 and who did not seek election in his own right in 2010, was right behind Haridopolos in second place with 9 percent. Businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister, who took more than 10 percent in the Republican gubernatorial contest in 2010, took third place with 4 percent. Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who represented parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties for eight years in the Legislature, commanded the support of 0 percent in the poll.
More than a tenth of those surveyed -- 12 percent -- expressed support for some other candidate. While U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, whose father had held the seat for 12 years, has already announced that he will not run for the seat, other candidates who are considering getting in the race include U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, former Ruth's Chris CEO Craig Miller who ran for the Republican nomination for a Central Florida congressional seat in 2010, and businessman Nick Loeb who ran for the state Senate in 2010. Businessman Ron McNeil, who ran in the Republican primary for a North Florida congressional seat in 2010 and took more than 10 percent, entered the race toward the end of April.
“The Republican U.S. Senate primary in Florida is wide open,” insisted Jacobs on Tuesday.
The poll of 458 Republican primary voters in Florida was taken on May 12-13. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.58 percent.
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