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Exclusive: Deveron Gibbons, Kathleen Ford lead race to be next Mayor, according to SP voter survey

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
The Times isn’t the only source with for exclusive polling information. I’ve obtained a copy of a comprehensive voter survey of 400 registered St. Petersburg voters. I’ll be sharing the results of this survey throughout the week.

For Deveron Gibbons, the glass is either half-empty or half-full. For Kathleen Ford, the glass is surprising filled-up. For the mythical candidate “Undecided,” the cup runneth over.

In a survey of voters in St. Petersburg City Council Districts 5,6, and 7, Gibbons was the choice of almost 20% of likely voters. Kathleen Ford finished a strong second with about 12% of the vote. A distant third was Bill Foster with about 6%. Larry Williams ranked a surprising fourth with about 5%, while Jamie Bennett, stung by a string of ethical allegations, received about 3%.

Scott Wagman, despite endorsements from several prominent African American leaders, finished with less than 1% of the poll, about the same level as Paul Congemi, Alex Haak, Ed Helm and Richard Eldridge.

For Gibbons, these numbers should be particularly troubling. Districts 5, 6 and 7 represent whatever base Deveron may have going into the election. It goes without saying that these districts are where Deveron hopes to mine support from the African American community. He will have to run up the score, so to speak, in Midtown to overcome his low ID in Northeast and West St. Petersburg. These numbers indicate Gibbons’ campaign has a lot of work left to do.

Kathleen Ford should be relatively pleased with these results. Despite saying she would not feel safe in some of the neighborhoods in these districts, Ford polled relatively well. If she runs anywhere close to second in these districts, and does as well as expected in her geographic base in Old Northeast and ideological base in West St. Petersburg, Ford will be well o n her way to secure a spot in November’s general election.

The big losers, according to this poll, are Jamie Bennett and Scott Wagman. Bennett represents District 5 and has strong ties to the Old Southeast in District 6. Despite all of the allegations against him, he should still be running strong on his home turf. Of course, he won’t listen, but with these poll numbers facing him, Bennett should heed the calls of those asking him to drop out of the race.

As for Wagman (and I know some readers will think I am skewing the numbers because of my distaste for Mr. Houghton-Wagman. All I can say is: the numbers don’t lie), these numbers prove that he is nothing but a paper tiger. Instead of literature drops and running banner ads on the New York Times website, he should be canvassing himself and buying time on BayNews 9.

Of course, most voters remain completely undecided. But I’m starting to think that those undecided voters are never going to tune in. The turnout for Obama will be the high-water mark for the next decade of elections. It’s time to start lowering expectations again.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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