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5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

Back before there was a FloridaPolitics.com and it was just me blogging at SaintPetersBlog.com, I would write a semi-regular screed about the Tampa Bay Times’ political coverage. This was so long ago, the Times still had St. Petersburg in its masthead.

I gave up the “5 things I think I think…” column after a while because it got repetitive. (And because so many of my favorite writers — Howard Troxler, Eric Deggans, Michael Kruse —  left the newspaper). However, with 15 days left before the election, it’s as good a time as any to check in on what the Times has to offer.

Unfortunately, it’s not much. At least as far as the print product is concerned. There’s some good and interesting stuff about national and state politics, but when it comes to the local scene, the pickings are slim.

There are only two Sundays left before Election Day and there isn’t a story in the newspaper about the high-profile congressional race in the region (Republican David Jolly vs. Democrat Charlie Crist) or the high-profile state Senate race in the region (Republican Dana Young vs. Democrat Bob Buesing and independent Joe Redner). Nothing on any of the state House races, although most of them are snoozers. Nothing on the county commission race between Republican Mike Mikurak and Democrat Charlie Justice.

Like I said, not much.

No wonder Adam Smith has to write about how “the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand this season.”

Really, that’s the best the political editor of the state’s largest newspaper has to offer two weeks out from an election? Other than quotes from good guys Brian Burgess and Nick Hansen, this story is even sillier than you might think. It’s as if because Smith doesn’t see any yard signs in his tony Old Northeast neighborhood, there are no yard signs anywhere!

Smith blames The Case of the Missing Yard Signs on “most voters disliking the major presidential nominees too much to want to boast about their choice.” But since when were presidential campaigns even known for having a strong yard sign program? It’s the local campaigns, with their tighter budgets, which rely more on yard signs. And in Smith’s St. Petersburg neighborhood there aren’t as many competitive down-ballot races as there have been in recent election cycles.

Where Smith lives, there aren’t bruising races for state Senate, state House, county commission, or school board as there were in 2012 and 2014. So maybe Smith’s headline should have been “Adored by candidates, the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD.”

Ah, the good ol’ days of making fun of Adam Smith‘s work. It’s 2013 all over again. No wonder yellow-bellied Adam won’t participate in a post-election panel with me at the Tampa Tiger Bay club.

Actually, Smith has a must-read piece fronting the newspaper about Hillary Clinton’s connections to the Sunshine State and his “Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics” (consultant Rick Wilson is the winner; Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes is the loser) is spot on.

Other thoughts about today’s newspaper:

Months after both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were dispatched from the presidential election by Donald Trump, their names still sit atop the Times’ website when you click on the 2016 CAMPAIGN under the POLITICS link.

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I agree with half of what John Romano tries to say about how “Rick Scott might have held the key to an outsider’s successful bid to the White House” because the columnist echoes some of what I’ve recently written about Scott; namely that Scott is under-appreciated as a political force. But where Romano and I diverge is with his thesis that Trump should have relied on the same message-driven playbook that worked for Scott in 2010. To suggest this ignores The Donald aspect of Donald Trump, which is what has propelled him to where he is today.

With Trump, there’s no way to separate the messenger from the message. This can be accomplished with Scott because he was a blank slate before he arrived on the political scene. Trump was already a brand.

Still, Romano’s column is worth the read.

 The Times’ final mission for the 2016 election cycle is to take down the utility industry-backed Amendment 1. The newspaper, of course, will write about Clinton vs. Trump and Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign, but it can’t influence those races. It can be a factor in whether Amendment 1 passes, so look for it to flood the zone — as it does today with not one, not two, but three Amendment 1 related punches, including this editorial.

Such good questions prompted by Charlie Frago’s reporting of how the City of St. Petersburg “experienced the equivalent of an air-raid siren warning about its impending sewage crisis.” Unfortunately, no one at City Hall is talking.

“I have no recollection of that event,” says Bill Foster, the mayor at the time. … Council members who served at that time also had never heard of it.

Former public works administrator Mike Connors, who was there when the Albert Whitted plant was closed in 2015, has retired. Water resources director Steve Leavitt and engineering director Tom Gibson were placed on unpaid leave while the city investigates what happened to the 2014 report, which was brought to light by a whistleblower.

Gibson and Connors declined to comment. Leavitt could not be reached for comment.

Even if any of these people did comment, it would not answer this question: who tipped off Frago to the 10.5 million-gallon discharge in 2013?

Pay attention to Susan Taylor Martin’s reporting about the 400 block of Central Avenue and whether it should be redeveloped into a residential property or into commercial space. Ten years from now, the 400 block could be the most important piece of non-waterfront property in the city, but only if the right decisions about its future are made now.

This was fun, critiquing the Times’ political coverage. Maybe it’s time to relaunch this series …

Barack Obama cuts ad for Charlie Crist in CD 13 race

President Barack Obama has cut a television commercial for Congressional District 13 candidate Charlie Crist, in which he says the people of Pinellas County “have an opportunity this year to elect a public servant who always put the people first.”

“As governor, he worked with both parties to get things done,” the president adds in the commercial, as the visuals show Crist meeting with local residents. The ad superimposes graphics that say he’ll protect Social Security and Medicare, defend women’s health care and Planned Parenthood, and take care of military veterans.

“Charlie needs your vote. Please stand with him. I know he’ll stand by you,” the president concludes.

Recent polls have shown Crist to be leading Republican incumbent David Jolly in the contest.

An internal poll released by the Jolly camp to the Tampa Bay Times last week showed Crist up by two percentage points, while others range from five to 18 points in Crist’s favor.

 

 

Mitch Perry Report for 10.18.16 — Amy Schumer not the 1st liberal comic to alienate her fans in Tampa

Amy Schumer isn’t the only major comic whose liberal schtick ended up alienating some Tampa residents who coughed up big money for a night’s entertainment.

In 2003 Bill Maher gave an eviscerating takedown of George W. Bush at the Straz Theatre (still known then simply as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center). It was just months after the “successful” invasion of Iraq. It was well before things went truly south for the U.S. and western forces there, and in our popular culture, seldom was heard a discouraging word about the fight, sold in part as addressing the wounds of 9/11.

A dozen or so people left the theater during Maher’s takedown. Although his attack on Bush wasn’t really anything new, it definitely alienated some of the citizens who had come out on a Friday night for a few laughs. Apparently they didn’t get HBO.

Meanwhile, Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio finally engaged in their first one-on-one debate last night from Orlando. It was pretty good stuff, after moderator Jonathan Karl got finished asking all of his nationally based questions about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Actually, it wasn’t Karl’s fault. Like so many Democrats in Tampa Bay, Florida and around the nation, Murphy is trying to conflate Rubio with Trump on a daily basis.

So Murphy kept on bringing up Rubio’s refusal to disassociate himself from the GOP presidential nominee, though Rubio was certainly critical of him.

Some reporters say the “news” out of the debate was that, for the first time, Rubio said he would serve a full, six-year term, “God willing.” I’d argue Rubio’s declaration that the Florida presidential election results will not be “rigged,” was pretty newsworthy, since it’s important for fellow Republicans to denounce the idea that the general election results are already fixed.

I mean, if that’s going to happen, why even campaign for another three weeks?

In other news …

Retired Army general Stanley McChrystal was in Tampa yesterday, where he said the No. 1 vulnerability of the U.S. government in terms of international relations is our political divisions at home.

Tampa Republican state Rep. Dana Young is calling for the FDLE to investigate the Hillsborough County PTC, following revelations of questionable moves made last week by embattled executive director Kyle Cockream.

And the DCCC is rubbing it in when it comes to that whole dubious ad they produced where they photoshopped David Jolly into appearing with Donald Trump.

With three weeks to go, the majority of those polled in the Tampa City Council District 7 area admit to having no clue, but Republican Jim Davison is blowing away the field among those who can name a candidate in that race.

Tampa Bay area religious leaders are calling on Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe to stop prosecuting death penalty cases.

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What to make of all the polling in the David Jolly vs. Charlie Crist race

Here’s how I know our reporters and I are covering the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District as it should be covered.

On Wednesday, Charlie Crist‘s wife, former first lady Carole Crist, expressed her displeasure with a story from September about a poll that showed Republican David Jolly leading Crist by three points.

Even though I explained that I have nothing to do with the conducting of the poll other than paying for it, it was clear Mrs. Crist was not entirely happy with that story.

And then, this week, the Jolly campaign declined to share the methodology of an internal poll it recently conducted because it said our lead reporter on this race, Mitch Perry, would skew the story against Jolly.

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

The brutal truth is I am personally too close to this race to be objective.

Also, and I think this is vital to point out, we cover campaigns differently than the Tampa Bay Times and other traditional media outlets, especially campaigns in our home turf.

FloridaPolitics.com has probably written five times the number of stories about Crist versus Jolly as the Times, not through any fault of the Times, but because we provide hyper-active coverage of local politics.

We also include the commentary of our columnists, such as Joe Henderson and Tom Jackson, as well as the opinions of guest writers. And, of course, we publish my analysis of the race.

It’s this unconventional mix of rapid-fire reporting and biting commentary that probably pisses off partisans on all sides.

And when these partisans are close friends, as many are in this case, it can make a publisher’s job difficult.

Oh well.

There are 24 days left in this election cycle and there’s no point trying to apologize now for a hard-hitting column or nasty tweet (the Jolly campaign was upset with me because I liked the Facebook status of Beverly Young where she said she was voting for Crist; I only did this so I could bookmark the status for later reference, but that did not matter to not-so-Jollyworld.)

With so few days left, it’s an appropriate time to evaluate some of the polling in this race.

So what is the status of Jolly versus Crist?

Bottom line, Crist is probably not leading Jolly by as much as some polling showing, but I don’t think Jolly is any longer as close to Crist as he one was. Let’s break down the numbers.

The recent poll by the University of North Florida showing Crist leading by Jolly by 18 points is the very definition of an outlier. What’s troubling about the UNF poll is the ratio of completed responses by landline (28 percent) to a cellphone (72 percent). That ratio should probably be inverted.

Crist supporters have learned to be wary of surveys from UNF after its final poll of the 2014 gubernatorial race showed the Democrat beating Rick Scott by five points.

I also don’t put a lot of faith in the poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Committee showing Crist leading Jolly by 11 points. In this case, the pollster (Anzalone Liszt Grove Research) is to be trusted. However, this poll’s results came after right after I received a survey that was nothing less than a push-poll. It was a live interview poll, so I have a feeling the 50 to 39 percent result that this poll showed came after a few less-than-flattering questions about Jolly.

Unfortunately for Jolly, the polls from UNF and the DCCC both made headlines and the rounds in all of the morning tout sheets, like Sunburn and POLITICO Playbook.

Even if the numbers from the polls are bogus, they had to have hurt Jolly, who is already in a precarious position when it comes to fundraising. Is a major donor — already weary of Jolly’s position on fundraising — going to kick in $25,000 to a pro-Jolly super PAC after reading two polls that showed him down an average of 15 points? Even billionaire Mike Fernandez has his limits.

Jolly’s camp pushed back on the UNF poll by releasing to the Tampa Bay Times an internal poll that showed him losing to Crist, but only by two points. The pollster, Data Targeting, is highly credible, but the survey had a margin of error of six points, which means Jolly could be losing by as many as eight points.

Which brings us to the poll I believe is the Goldilocks of this race: the most recent effort by St. Pete Polls that shows Crist leading Jolly by five points.

Although St. Pete Polls does not have the national reputation of Anzalone or Data Targeting, it absolutely nailed the special election in CD 13 when Jolly was first elected. It also recently showed Jolly winning the race, so it’s difficult to argue that St. Pete Polls is biased against Jolly or has some other anti-Republican house effect.

Not surprisingly, St. Pete Polls has Jolly right where Data Targeting has him if you split the difference on the margin of error — a dangerous apples-to-bowling balls comparison, but an appropriate one here because the two pro-Crist polls would skew the average of these four polls to Crist plus-9, which I just don’t believe is where the race is at.

Two final points about all of these polls …

One of the reasons the Jolly camp has to push back hard on this polling narrative is that, if it is behind big, it does not have the passing game to catch up with Crist. Although there are some pro-Jolly super PACs with some money left to help, Jolly’s campaign is running on fumes.

The second point is, as should be said about any polling story, it’s about the trendline, not the top lines. In the case of the St. Pete Polls survey, there was an eight-point movement for Crist. Even if those polls are wrong, they’re wrong in a way that shows that Jolly is almost certainly trailing Crist.

DCCC says David Jolly ‘lied and it backfired’ regarding Donald Trump ad

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee boasted this weekend that David Jolly‘s campaign “lied and it backfired” regarding his camp’s announcement Friday that a local television station had pulled a controversial ad that uses doctored photos of Jolly with Donald Trump.

“Jolly’s bizarre strategy to solely object to dramatized pictures in a DCCC ad depicting a potential “President Trump” working with a future “Congressman Jolly” — failed miserably,” the DCCC chortled triumphantly in a statement issued Saturday. It was referring to a statement issued out by the Jolly campaign on Friday that Tampa Bay-area CBS affiliate WTSP-TV had announced on their Facebook page they were removing the ad.

“We have taken all photos and videos regarding the matter off our website and our television channel,” the station wrote back to one Sarasota resident who complained on the station’s Facebook page that the ad was “false and misleading.”

However, those and other statements on the WTSP Facebook page regarding the ad apparently weren’t authorized, according to WTSP news director Bob Clinkingbeard.

“Someone sending private messages using WTSP’s Facebook account” without authorization was what Clinkingbeard was telling the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

The Trump-Jolly television ad has become one of the most controversial of any produced nationally this election cycle. It begins with a narrator asking viewers to “imagine David Jolly in Congress, supporting Trump’s dangerous agenda,” as an image of the Congressional District 13 incumbent shaking hands with Trump is shown on the screen. As more photoshopped images of Jolly and Trump are shown, the word “dramatization” is flashed on the screen. The ad also features doctored photos of Trump with Vladimir Putin.

The Jolly campaign immediately cried foul, calling on local television stations in the Tampa Bay area market to stop airing the ads, while threatening the DCCC with a lawsuit. Jolly and Trump have never met, Jolly has not endorsed Trump, and Jolly actually called on Trump to leave the race last December after the Republican presidential nominee proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

The ad links Jolly to Trump by referring to their shared support of restrictions on abortions and denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and it concludes with the narrator saying, “imagine Donald Trump as president and how dangerous he would be with David Jolly supporting him in Congress.”

Attorneys for the DCCC have said it’s clear from the context of the ad and the disclaimer that the images are not real, “but are used to depict what the future might look like if voters support Rep. Jolly’s candidacy. There is no risk of confusion on this point. The images simply contribute to the advertisement’s central message that Rep. Jolly and Donald Trump share the same dangerous positions on important issues and that if Mr. Trump is elected president and Rep. Jolly is re-elected to his seat in Congress, he will support Mr. Trump’s agenda on these issues. This advertisement is accurate in every respect, raises critical public policy issues, and should continue to air.”

“For a candidate who regularly uses the term ‘liar’ to describe his opponents, it’s ironic that Jolly has been flatly caught doing exactly that — lying,” said Jermaine House of the DCCC. “David Jolly is so desperate to hide this Trump-like record from voters, that he will do anything — even misleading the public — only this time it backfired.”

Charlie Crist is needed in the U.S. House, congresswomen say

Crist Kriseman Lee FrankelFormer Gov. Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman gave two members of the U.S. Congress an up close look at some of the challenges the city is facing with its outdated sewer system.

In turn, they urged support for Charlie Crist in the upcoming election. Crist is running for the Congressional District 13 seat held by Republican David Jolly.

Crist said he asked U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and Lois Frankel to tour the Southwest Water Treatment Plant, 3800 54th Ave. S to educate them and make them aware of the problem. The federal government, he said, could provide St. Pete with funding to help offset the multi-million dollar cost of replacing and repairing the system.

Like Crist and Kriseman, both Lee and Frankel are Democrats. Frankel represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, which stretches from Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County to Ft. Lauderdale and Plantation in Broward County. Lee represents California’s 13th CD. She is a member of the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.

After they toured the sewer plant, Crist, Lee and Frankel joined U.S. Rep Kathy Castor at Chief’s Creole Café restaurant in south St. Petersburg where they met with a group of women to discuss issues important to them. Castor, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Tampa, part of St. Petersburg and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Crist Kriseman Lee Frankel CastorAmong the women at the roundtable discussion were Pinellas School Board member Rene Flowers, Gulfport Council member Yolanda Roman, and Susan Glickman, Florida Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund.

Among the issues: equal pay, more equitable access to funding for small businesses run by women and minorities, reproductive choice, women’s health, energy, global warming and climate change, solar power, Social Security, jobs, anti-minority bias in policing, and education.

Castor, Frankel and Lee agreed: None of those things would get done while Congress is controlled by Republicans.

The priorities of the Republican-led Congress are completely divorced from the issues that are important to everyday people, Castor said.

They urged the women at the table to help elect Crist to add his voice to those of other Democrats in Congress and as a step to gaining a majority of seats in the U.S. House.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.14.16 – Mission creep in Yemen?

The real news is out there — you just have to search for it.

While the increasingly dysfunctional presidential election grips/horrifies the nation, there are things happening in the world that U.S. citizens should be aware of — such as our involvement in Yemen.

On Thursday, the U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer.

Now some might ask: What is our military doing there in the first place?

Well, apparently it’s because of our alliance with frenemy Saudi Arabia.

Let’s go back to 2014, where an alliance of Houthi rebels began fighting for control of Yemen against followers of its former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. That picked up momentum when the Saudis, fearing the influence of Iran, led a coalition of air strikes to support the exiled Yemen leader, Abed Rabbo Mansour.

That has killed nearly 10,000 people, with reports of as many as 4,000 of them civilians. And this is where we should add that the U.S. has sold Saudi Arabia over $111 billion in defense equipment and weaponry under President Obama, and the U.S. and Great Britain have been key allies in helping the Saudis in Yemen.

Because of that alliance, there are those in Yemen who blame the U.S. for what the Saudis are doing, hence the shots taken at U.S. Navy ship earlier this week, based there to guard a sea lane through which four million barrels of oil pass daily.

Now there’s this, from today’s New York Times: “After the American strikes, Iran said it was sending two warships to the strait, presumably to support the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran. Saudi Arabia has portrayed the Houthis as an Iranian proxy force and has said that it needed to intervene in Yemen to protect Saudi national security by preventing the rise of a belligerent militia on its southern border.”

The question I’d love to ask the presidential candidates if I had the opportunity — or heck, if I could ask Barack Obama a question — it’d be do we really care about what’s going in Yemen? Because innocent people are dying from weaponry sold to them by our country.

In August, a bill was introduced by Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee, and Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken to stop the proposed sale of more than $1 billion in arms to the Saudis.

“Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region,” Paul said at the time.

The deal passed the Senate last month.

In other news …

One of the most intriguing races in Hillsborough County has been the State Attorney’s contest between Republican incumbent Mark Ober and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Warren.

Yesterday, Ober released a statement where he said he was tired of Warren “lying to the voters” about his record, specifically regarding the circumstances of two controversial cases.

Warren followed suit later in the day, making sure to add his own criticisms to a national report released Wednesday alleging Ober’s office is an outlier around the nation when it comes to pursuing death penalty cases.

You can call a University of North Florida poll that shows Charlie Crist up by 18 points over David Jollyan outlier if you want, but the trend lines are not good for the Indian Shores Republican fighting to maintain his job in a Democratic-leaning congressional district.

Team Jolly is still incensed about a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad that uses a bogus made-up photo of the congressman standing side-by-side with Donald Trump, despite the fact that the two men have never been in the same room together. Jolly would at least like to hear Crist criticize the DCCC, but he’s not going there.

Among the many, many national groups on the ground here in Florida for the election and for the Democrats this cycle is the AFL-CIO, who dropped a ton of new mailers to union households earlier this week.

David Jolly camp upset that Charlie Crist won’t denounce DCCC ad that links him to Donald Trump

 

David Jolly‘s campaign can’t believe Charlie Crist won’t join them in rebuking an ad produced on his behalf by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

On Wednesday, Team Jolly had an attorney reach out to local television stations in the Tampa Bay area media market, asking them to stop airing what they say is a “deceitful” ad that uses edited photos to physically place Jolly next to Donald Trump, indicating the Congressional District 13 incumbent backs the controversial GOP nominee, when he most decidedly does not.

In their statement on Wednesday, the Jolly team called on Crist to join them in denouncing the ad. Crist did no such thing. So on Thursday they released a short video clip of Crist rather awkwardly addressing the disputed ad at a candidate forum at Eckerd College that took place Wednesday night.

“They have the right to … First Amendment gives them the right to do that,” Crist replies. “And it’s not my campaign, as you said,” he says while pausing. “So, that’s that.”

He is then asked by the panelist if the visual misrepresentation was inappropriate? “I haven’t seen the ad, so in all fairness, I can’t comment.”

“When given the chance to disown it and do the right thing, Charlie Crist chose Washington over Pinellas County,” said Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the David Jolly for Congress Campaign. “When given the chance to stand up for the community and against the very forces we complain about, Charlie Crist pled ignorance. When given the chance to show true character and civility, Charlie Crist, the self-professed defender of ‘the people,’ revealed that he is OK with deceiving ‘the people’ so long as it benefits himself.”

The Jolly camp again called on Crist to denounce the ad as “deceptive and lying to the people of Pinellas.”

Bascom also referenced an incident during the 2014 special congressional election when Jolly ran against Democrat Alex Sink. That’s when the National Republican Congressional Committee aired a TV ad accusing her of using a state plane while she was Florida CFO. The Tampa Bay Times reported at the time that Jolly had distanced himself from the ad.

Jolly is running for re-election in his 13th Congressional District against Crist. A poll released early Thursday from the University of North Florida showed Crist with a significant 18-point lead over Jolly, 54 percent to 36 percent.

Shock poll in Congressional District 13: Charlie Crist 54%, David Jolly 36%

A shocking new poll in Florida’s 13th Congressional District gives Democrat Charlie Crist an 18-point lead over GOP incumbent David Jolly.

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida puts the race at 54 to 36 percent. Nine percent of CD 13 voters are undecided, and one percent support another candidate.

The 18-point gap is by far the largest of any poll conducted in what is considered to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, though the redistricting of CD 13 prompted Jolly himself to quip that no Republican could possibly win it.

“This relatively large lead for Crist is due, in part, to name recognition, and I think this will play out in other races as well. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have dominated the media, making it a struggle in this environment for candidates without highly recognized names,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Laboratory.

The poll of 611 likely voters in the Pinellas County district was conducted Oct. 9-11.

“Another advantage for Crist is that he is faring well across party lines and, perhaps because he was once a Republican, he’s getting 22 percent of Republican support,” Binder continued. “Even though Crist is doing quite well with African-American (87 percent) and Hispanic (72 percent) voters, this district is predominately white, and he is winning there too with 47 percent, compared with 42 percent for Jolly.”

The poll also shows a strong gender gap in the contest. Crist leads Jolly by nine points among men, but has a stunning 24 percent lead with women, 56 percent to 32 percent.

Jolly acknowledged when he re-entered the race in June it would not be an easy task to win the newly configured seat, saying, “we might have the most challenging race for a Republican in the country, in a very expensive media market, against a very well-qualified candidate in Charlie Crist, who has shown that he can win races. So I am not naive with the challenge we are undertaking.”

Most of the polls in the contest have shown the margin to be relatively close. A St. Pete Polls survey released Tuesday showed Crist leading Jolly by five points, 48 to 43 percent. A DCCC-sanctioned poll released last week that was quickly dismissed by the Jolly campaign had Crist up by 11 points, 50 to 39 percent.

One possible consideration for Jolly losing support could be from Republicans unhappy that he ISN’T endorsing Trump. Although a number of Republicans have backed away from their presidential nominee in the wake of the lewd comments he made in a newly surfaced videotape last week, many others are standing by him, in some cases so they don’t lose the support of the rank-and-file Republican voter. Jolly has never endorsed Trump, and at times has been quite critical of him. His campaign team Wednesday called on local television stations to stop airing a DCCC-produced ad that featured Jolly and Trump together.

The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points. The breakdown of responses was 28 percent on landline phones to 72 percent on cellphones.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.13.15 — Hillsborough Dems in denial about the Joe Redner factor in SD 18 race?

A St. Pete Polls survey released this morning shows Republican Dana Young with a six-point lead over her Democratic challenger, Bob Buesing, 38 percent to 32 percent. Independent candidate Joe Redner is in third place with 16 percent. Sheldon Upthegrove is at 3 percent, and 11 percent are undecided.

A survey taken earlier this summer showed Young and Buesing essentially tied, but that poll did not ask voters about Redner.

Although Redner has run many times for office, he’s actually putting some of his considerable financial resources into this campaign and, with his already well-established name recognition in Hillsborough County, is a definite factor in this race.

The adult club impresario and social activist dismisses any notion of dropping out of the contest to make way for Buesing, who he’s certainly in much more in agreement with on the issues than Young. Redner says he’s the best candidate in the race, so why should he get out?

As mentioned above, he’s also much better known than Buesing at this point. When asked earlier in the campaign about his relatively low name recognition considering he’s never previously run for office, Buesing countered that internal polling showed Young actually wasn’t that well known in Senate District 18 either. But Redner could very well be better known than either candidate. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win (this poll shows he’s not), but it does mean he’s having a serious effect on the ultimate outcome.

Democrats — including Buesing himself — say they’re not concerned Redner will take votes that might otherwise have gone to the Democratic nominee, insisting “Donald Trump Republicans” will back him. The polling shows Redner does garner GOP support. Just not as much as he does from Democrats.

The survey finds Redner gets 19 percent support from Democrats, 14 percent from independents and 14 percent from Republicans.

Young is getting more support from her Republican base than Buesing is from his Democratic base. The survey shows 58 percent of Republicans are backing Young, while 49 percent of Democrats are backing Buesing.

It certainly is relevant to note that St. Pete Polls does not poll cellphone users. However, before you write this survey off as out of touch with contemporary voters, you should note that it polled fairly accurately in several of the August primary elections.

In other news …

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is calling on Republicans to drop their support for Donald Trump and get on the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is using doctored photos to suggest David Jolly and Donald Trump are allies in a new ad, the Jolly campaign said Wednesday, and they wrote to local television stations, asking them to stop airing the ad.

Patrick Murphy says he’s now ready to debate Marco Rubio on Univision affiliates later this month.

A new report says Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are two of the most eager state attorney’s offices in the nation in having their prosecutors ask for the death penalty.

HD 63 Democratic candidate Lisa Montelione is so busy helping constituents, she didn’t have time to appear in her first TV ad of the election cycle.

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