Polling shows some Pinellas’ legislative incumbents could have tough re-elects

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Two Democratic Pinellas County House incumbents could find themselves in difficult re-election battles come November, according to the latest poll from StPetePolls.

A third open seat is also extremely close, with the two leaders separated by only a few percentage points.

In House District 65, Republican newcomer Chris Sprowls is in a virtual tie with Democratic State Rep. Carl “Z” Zimmerman — 42% each — with 15% undecided. HD 65 covers covering the cities of Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and East Lake.

In addition to overwhelming GOP support, Sprowls would also take 10.4 percent of the Democratic vote from Zimmerman, who himself siphons off about 18 percent of Republicans. Independent voters split evenly between the two — 42 percent for Zimmerman and 43.2 percent for Sprow41%ls.

The April 8 survey, commissioned by SaintPetersBlog, polled 471 registered voters in that race with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Compared to the other incumbent race, House District 68 Democrat Dwight Dudley has a slightly larger advantage over first-time Republican candidate Bill Young II, son of the popular former U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young. There, Dudley takes a 5-point lead  with 44% versus Young’s 39%, with 17% undecided in the eastern Pinellas County district.

Dudley and Young each enjoy strong support from their base, getting numbers in the mid-60s — Dudley with 63% of Democrats and Young with 64% of Republicans. Both candidates takes about the same number of voters from the opposing party: Young gets 20% percent Democratic votes while Dudley takes 22% of Republicans.

However, independents seem to be breaking a little more for Dudley, with 45% to Young’s 32%; nearly one quarter (23%) of independents remain undecided.

That survey contacted 409 registered voters, and Dudley’s numbers are just slightly outside of the +/- 4.8 point margin of error.

In the open seat race, Chris Latvala, son of state Senator Jack Latvala, holds a slight lead over his Democratic opponent — radio talk show host Shawna Vercher — 41% to 40% to succeed term-limited Rep. Ed Hooper in House District 67. Latvala is another first-time Republican candidate.

Both Latvala and Vercher also have strong support from their base, each getting in the high-60s; while the Republican is slightly more popular with Democrats (18%) than vice versa. Vercher gets only 15% of GOP voters.

HD 67 covers parts of Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park.

That survey asked 429 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.