Shock poll: Curt Clawson 38%, Lizbeth Benacquisto 32% in CD 19 special election

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After spending several hundred thousand dollars on playful television ads touting his candidacy, businessman Curt Clawson has pulled ahead of state Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto in the special election in Florida’s 19th congressional district.

According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls commissioned by this blog, Clawson is at 38 percent, while Benacquisto is at 32 percent. Former state Representative Paige Kreegel is at 9 percent. Two other candidates, Michael Dreikorn and Timothy Rossano, are in low single digits, while 17 percent of voters are undecided.

Those polled were active Republican voters who said they intended to vote in the upcoming special election.

Clawson, a former college basketball star turned auto executive, launched his campaign with a major TV ad buy during the Super Bowl. In the commercial, Clawson challenged President Barack Obama to a shooting contest on the basketball court. 

Since that first ad, Clawson has reportedly been writing six-figure checks to pay for television ad time in CD 19.

The primary in the special election is April 22, followed by a June 24 special election. The special election was called after Trey Radel resigned in January, months after his arrest in Washington, D.C. for cocaine possession.

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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.