FloridaPolitics.com today released the results of a poll of a possible GOP primary in the race for Florida’s 4th Congressional District. The most significant finding of the poll may be that former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford is the early frontrunner to succeed Ander Crenshaw.
But that is not the poll’s most interesting data point. That would be what Republicans in northeast Florida think of the 5 candidates running to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis leads the field with 32%. That’s a no-brainer. The First Coast is DeSantis’ backyard.
In second place, surprisingly, is Manatee homebuilder Carlos Beruff with nine percent support. Beruff is well ahead of U.S. Rep. David Jolly (5 percent), who is regarded (and describes himself) as the frontrunner in the race.
There’s no reason why Beruff should be ahead of Jolly or Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera except for one factor: He has spent roughly $1.5 million of his own money on television ads by the middle of next week, reports Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Why shouldn’t we assume that what is happening in CD 4 isn’t happening in other congressional districts throughout the state where Beruff is on the air?
Why shouldn’t we assume that if Beruff spends another $1.5 million, he won’t be closer to DeSantis in the polls?
Why shouldn’t we assume that if and when (more when than if) Wilcox starts spending from his personal fortune (estimated to be north of $50 million) that he, too, won’t ladder up the polls?
The reality is the race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate is shifting — and probably shifting under the feet of Jolly, who is so confident of his lead in the polls that he agreed to unilaterally debate Democrat Alan Grayson. (Someone please tell me what the upside of Jolly debating Grayson is? When you stand next to clown, people think you work at the circus.)
One top GOP consultant working in this race predicts that by the end of May, the narrative will have shifted away from Jolly leading to DeSantis in front, Beruff on his heels, and Wilcox as the outsider looking to make a move.
This is probably why talk of Jolly dropping out of the Senate race and returning to running for his congressional seat is bubbling up. This is probably why talk of CLC dropping out of the Senate race and running for Mayor of Miami is bubbling up. As capable as both of these men are, their paths to victory appear narrow.
This is especially true for Jolly, whose disdain for fundraising has left him without the passing game needed to catch up if he does, in fact, fall behind. Jolly also does things like push Scientology-backed legislation to study the relationship between psychiatric drugs and veteran suicide (my goodness, how many mailers written by CLC super PACer Rick Wilson will rely on that story?)
Jolly appears allergic to traditional forms of complaining, but it’s hard to blame him for this reaction. He won his congressional seat in a hotly-contested election that had him at 2 percent in the polls at the start of the race.
In other words, Jolly’s found himself in deeper holes than the one he may find himself in soon. It remains to be seen whether he can dig himself out once again?