Politics St Johns before Primary Election

More than 550 votes were cast in straw polls administered by the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections office during the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce’s Politics in St. Johns series of events that concluded this week. The candidate “meet and greet” events were held in Ponte Vedra on July 16 and in St. Augustine on August 1.

As in past years when Historic City News reporters covered the main event, the polling event was open to those who registered in advance.  The polls were informal, there were some interesting results including a 19-vote victory for Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson over the current Governor, Republican Rick Scott, in Florida’s U.S. Senate contest.  Statewide polls cite a close race between the two well-known politicians; however, in 2012 Senator Nelson finished behind Republican Connie Mack by more than 20 points in St. Johns County, while Governor Scott won the County’s vote in 2014 by more than 30 points.

“I am very pleased to see how this series has grown over the years; it means that people are becoming more engaged,” Isabelle Renault, Chamber president, said.  “We are proud to be able to provide a platform that will help St. Johns County residents make an informed voting decision.”

The Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Paul Renner in the State of Florida’s House of Representatives District 24 race, Adam Morley, also scored a 10-vote victory. The first time the two faced each other for the same District 24 House seat in 2016, Renner notched a more than 30-point victory in the General election.

In the race for Governor, U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis enjoys a 6-point lead, according to the Chamber straw poll, garnering 26% of the total vote. This result over Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam more closely reflects the nine-point lead DeSantis is estimated to have in a state-wide poll held by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative rather than those held by St. Pete Polls or the Fabrizio-Lee poll that suggest DeSantis has a much larger lead.

The straw polls’ leading Democratic vote-getter Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum received 19% of the total vote leading the next closest Democratic candidate Gwen Graham who earned 13%. This result represents a much larger departure from the reported trends that have Graham with a small lead over Philip Levine, who placed a distant third among Democrats and sixth overall at Politics in St. Johns.

Combined, the Chamber estimates nearly 1000 people attended Politics in St. Johns events in 2018 the largest attendance since the Chamber launched the series in 2012.  With more than 550 votes cast in the series’ straw polls, Chamber Director of Public Policy Bob Porter believes these results could be useful.

“It’s certainly not a model to predict results,” Porter said. “However, the numbers of people at these events is large and, for the first time this year, we have held the poll in Ponte Vedra as well, so it could be a useful tool for candidates to gauge the public’s sentiment with only weeks to go before the Primaries.”

The St. Augustine Politics in St. Johns is the third and final episode in the Chamber’s series of political events. The first event, the Legislative breakfast, was held in March and featured Congressman John Rutherford, State Representatives Paul Renner and Cyndi Stevenson and County Commission Chair Henry Dean shortly after the state of Florida’s legislative session concluded. The second event in the Politics triumvirate was the first series straw poll and candidate meet and greet event held at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.

Combined Straw Poll Results
United States Senator
263        Rick Scott            R
282        Bill Nelson           D
United States Representative District 4
283        John H. Rutherford            R
243        George “Ges” Selmont      D
United States Representative District 6
42           Fred Costello       R
47           Michael Waltz     R
23           John Ward           R
46           Stephen Sevigny D
96           Nancy Soderberg D
32           John Upchurch    D
142        Ron DeSantis       R
19           Bruce Nathan      R
109        Adam H. Putnam R
105        Andrew Gillum   D
70           Gwen Graham    D
47           Jeff Greene          D
7             Chris King            D
33           Philip Levine        D
5             Alex “Lundy” Lundmark    D
Attorney General
199        Ashley Moody    R
70           Frank White        R
162        Sean Shaw           D
65           Ryan Torrens       D
Chief Financial Officer
227        Jimmy Patronis   R
245        Jeremy Ring         D
Commissioner of Agriculture
114        Matt Caldwell     R
62           Denise Grimsley R
35           Mike McCalister R
40           Baxter Troutman R
161        Nicole “Nikki” Fried           D
20           Jeffery Duane Porter         D
48           Roy David Walker              D
State Representative District 17
288        Cyndi Stevenson R
235        Jaime D. Perkins NPA
State Representative District 24
143        Paul Renner         R
153        Adam Morley      D
Circuit Judge – 7th Circuit – Group 15
137        Linda L. Gaustad
170        Sebrina L Slack
139        Ryan Will
County Commissioner District 4
93           Erika Alba            R
128        Jeremiah Blocker R
21           Nicholas “Mike” Dudynskay            R
115        Dick Williams      R
139        John C. “Jack” Gorman     NPA
School Board Member District 4
276        Kelly Barrera
52           Denver Cook
146        Abigail Levrini
Anastasia Mosquito Control District Seat 2
132        Karen Cornwell
214        Jeanne Moeller
60           Merrill Paul Roland
Anastasia Mosquito Control District Seat 4
175        Trish Becker
84           Catherine Brandhorst
146        Peter Miele
St. Johns County Airport Authority Group 2
189        Justin Mirgeaux
221        Victor Raymos
St. Johns County Airport Authority Group 3
220        Bruce Maguire
185        Carl Youman
City of St. Augustine Seat 3/Mayor
109        Bill McClure
34           Jackie Rock
126        Nancy Shaver
City of St. Augustine Seat 4
98           Jill Pacetti
30           Wade Ross
126        John Valdes
City of St. Augustine Seat 5
87           Chris Ellis
158        Nancy Sikes-Kline
Total Votes: 552

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