An initial poll of the Senate District 6 special election shows the two major GOP candidates, state Reps. Travis Hutson and “Doc” Renuart, popular with voters.
So far, Renuart, who currently represents Florida House District 17, has taken the lead by 7 points, 27 percent to 20 percent for Hutson. The poll was conducted by The Tarrance Group, on behalf of a statewide professional association.
Hutson serves House District 24, which covers Flagler County, southern St. Johns County, and northern Volusia County. District 17 covers northern St. Johns County, from St. Augustine to Palm Valley.
However, the Senate race is still wide open, with 53 percent of respondents currently undecided.
District 6 opened up when longtime state Sen. John Thrasher, after an easy re-election Nov. 4, vacated the seat to become president of Florida State University. Thrasher leaves with more than just massive name recognition, 90 percent of voters, but also with high favorability numbers: 55 percent favorable versus only 16 percent unfavorable.
As for the candidates, Renuart has a slight name recognition advantage, with 39 percent. Hutson’s name ID is at 25 percent.
Voters also give a small job approval advantage to Renuart. The Ponte Vedra Beach Republican gets 24 percent positive and 4 percent unfavorable. In HD 17, he has 68 percent name ID, with 51 percent favorable and 8 percent unfavorable.
In comparison, Hutson has 11 percent favorable and 2 percent unfavorable numbers in District 6. In HD 24, he has 47 percent name ID, with 24 percent favorable and 1 percent unfavorable.
If polling is any indication, District 6 residents can expect to hear a lot about jobs and immigration in the race to replace Thrasher. The top issues with voters in the largely Republican district, according to pollsters, are illegal immigration (20 percent), jobs (18 percent) and the economy (10 percent).
Gov. Rick Scott, whose re-election success centered on promoting his first term economic and jobs record, also is popular in District 6, where he has an 80 percent favorable and 12 percent unfavorable rating.