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Exclusive: Poll shows Pinellas Commissioner Susan Latvala in precarious position versus challenger Beverly Billiris

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
A recent poll of 300 high frequency voters by Schroth, Eldon & Associates shows 10-year County Commissioner Susan Latvala would face two competitive elections against well-known challengers in an incumbent hostile political environment.

In the Republican Primary, Susan Latvala leads Beverly Billiris by only five points – 28% to 23% with Carl Folkman receiving 5% and 44% of respondents undecided.

With much of the attention focusing on the anti-Washington mood of the nation and the slipping in the polls of Charlie Crist against Marco Rubio in the GOP rimary for U.S. Senate, the question invariably is asked: How far down does this anger go? Who is safe? Is anyone?

The data suggests that in Pinellas County incumbents on a 2010 ballot should take their elections very seriously. When asked if Susan Latvala deserved re-election or if it was time to give someone else a chance, 39 percent said it was time for someone new to only 29 percent saying to re-elect Latvala.

When this question was probed for intensity, the strength of the anti-incumbent chill in the air became clearer – with two to one saying they definitely would prefer someone new to definitely reelect Latvala (20%-10%)

Many incumbents in difficult times such as these face daunting re-elect numbers, but not many incumbents who face these numbers find themselves on such relatively equal footing as their challengers.

Susan Latvala receives a 39% favorability rating while one of her Republican primary challengers Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverly Billiris receives a 34% favorability rating. Businessman and former Dunedin mayor Bob Hackworth receives a 30% favorability rating.

All three candidates have laid down sufficient enough name recognition to begin
communicating directly with voters without the need to introduce themselves to voters.

The poll was conducted from January 18-20, 2010 with a margin of error of 5.6 percent.

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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