The election to fill U.S. Rep. Bill Young’s seat may not be until next year, but talk of a replacement is already heating up.
A few names — such as former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and former state CFO Alex Sink — rise to the top of the list of contenders for the 13th Congressional District seat.
Although Baker is by far the favorite among Republicans and would lead in a general election over other Democrats, in a head-to-head matchup, Sink wins.
St. Pete Polls recently announced the latest survey of voters, commissioned by this blog, asking 1741 registered voters whom they prefer to succeed Young in several hypothetical contests.
When the race is between Republican Baker and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sink, Baker falls short by nearly 16 points. Sink gets 50.8 percent, compared to 34.0 percent for Baker.
In a matchup between Baker and attorney Jessica Ehrlich (who lost against Young in 2012), the former mayor leads by nearly five points. Baker gets 34.6 percent to 30.7 for Ehrlich, with 34.7 undecided.
Sink also takes a considerable lead over Neil Brickfield, besting the former Republican Pinellas County Commissioner by more than 32 points. Sink gets a comfortable 56.6 to Brickfield’s 24.0 percent.
In ballot tests of prospective primary races, both Sink and Baker emerge as the favorites with voters in their respective parties.
Baker is the clear leader with Republican voters in a fictional primary against Brickfield, former Rep. Larry Crow, attorney David Jolly, Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel, Bill Young Jr. or Someone Else.
- Baker: 42.9 percent
- Someone Else: 19.4 percent
- Young: 17.8 percent
- Seel: 8.3 percent
- Brickfield: 6.0 percent
- Crow: 3.8 percent
- Jolly: 1.8 percent
Taking out the 29-year-old Young Jr., the son of the retiring congressman, Baker’s appeal with GOP voters rises to 50.5 percent, and “someone else” jumps to 26.5 percent. Republicans also have a favorable view of Baker by a wide margin, 60.4 percent favorable to 14.7 percent unfavorable, and 24.9 percent of voters unsure.
In the choice of Democrats, Sink is the overwhelming favorite in a fictitious primary run, by more than 43 points. Sink gets 63.1 percent backing with Democratic voters, compared to only 19.8 percent for Ehrlich. Someone Else gets 10.0 percent, and 7.2 percent are unsure.
As popular as Sink is in a hypothetical primary, her approval rating is even higher. More than 73 percent of registered Democratic voters have a favorable opinion of Sink, with only 10.8 who view her unfavorably. Around 16 percent are not sure.