Latest polling sets baseline for St. Pete’s general elections

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Polls has released its first round of polling in St. Petersburg’s general elections and the four races on the November ballot are about where you’d expect them.

In the mayoral race, the contest between incumbent Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker remains deadlocked, just as it was on Election Day. 

Kriseman holds a lead of less than 1 percent, 46.7 percent to Baker’s 46.1 percent. Seven percent of voters say they are unsure about who they will support.

In the primary, Kriseman beat out Baker by just 69 votes.

“I never thought we would get more than 48 or 49 percent,” Baker said after the final tallies were announced. “A lot of people speculated we would. But I’ve always known this is going to be a dogfight.”

In the days leading up to the primary, Kriseman gained momentum with integrated Democratic neighborhoods in the city’s Southeast, where he squeaked out a win. Baker did well in the northeast part of the city, as well as majority-black communities such as Midtown, where he was widely lauded for helping bring a major-chain grocery store to the Tangerine Plaza off 18th Avenue S.

But what has been dubbed “the battle of the Ricks” will likely be remembered (or infamous) for its hyper partisanship, particularly unusual in the race for a traditionally nonpartisan job. There has been much involvement by the Florida Democratic Party on Kriseman’s behalf, mostly with volunteer support from elected officials and a push to link Republican Baker to President Donald Trump, who is broadly unpopular with St. Petersburg voters.

Three City Council races are on the ballot in November, but only two are expected to be competitive.

In District 2, Realtor Brandi Gabbard holds a sizable lead over banker Barclay Harless, 30 to 14 percent, despite the former’s impressive list of endorsements and contributors. A large number of undecideds there means both candidates have an uphill climb for name recognition.

In District 4, incumbent Darden Rice leads political newcomer Jerick Johnston, 40 to 22 percent. Rice, a longtime community activist, is in her first-term on the Council.

And in the high-profile District 6 race, neighborhood leader Gina Driscoll is at 27 percent, while Justin Bean, the top vote-getter in the primary election, is at 22 percent.

Driscoll, the 46-year-old president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association who works as a sales manager at the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown, is endorsed by Council member Karl Nurse, the man she hopes to replace. Bean, 30, had been recommended by the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, which called him “the candidate with the best potential for growing into the job.”

The poll was conducted the day after the primary election and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Voters head to the polls Nov. 7, although early balloting will begin later this month.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.