Contentious City Council race going down to the wire, new poll says

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The increasingly contentious race for the District 7 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council is too close to call, according to the latest poll of city voters.

Lisa Wheeler-Brown, who emerged from the primary as the top vote-getter, commands 36 percent support, while her opponent, Will Newton, is at 34 percent, according to a survey taken by St. Pete Polls.

A poll taken a month ago showed Brown at 34 percent and Newton at 27 percent. Since that time, Brown has been the subject of several less-than-flattering stories on this site and in the rest of the local media. Reports showed Wheeler-Brown may have broken campaign finance laws by using campaign funds for a dental procedure, reporting that expense as something else for more than six months and failing to report in-kind contributions for office space.

The Tampa Tribune editorial board reversed its support of Brown, citing these and other controversies.

With a month to go before Election Day, this new poll makes it clear the District 7 race is a genuine toss-up.

In the other City Council races, where two incumbents are facing challenges from first-time candidates, the races already appear over.

In District 1, Councilman Charlie Gerdes is at 39 percent, while Monica Abbott is at 20 percent. In District 5 (and likely much to the chagrin of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board) Steve Kornell leads Phillip Garrett 38 to 22 percent.

The poll was conducted with a 4 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

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.