Split News For Florida Democrats

By John Celock

A new poll shows that a progressive favorite is leading in the Democratic primary for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat but the establishment favorite is winning in general election match-ups.

A new Public Policy Poll released Tuesday shows that U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is leading U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Democratic Senate primary 33 percent to 22 percent, with 45 percent of those surveyed undecided. The poll does show though that Murphy is shaping up to be the stronger of the two in a general election in the swing state for the seat of Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who is not seeking reelection.

The poll indicated that Murphy leads all three of the top Republican candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups, while Grayson trails one and narrowly leads a second. The poll shows that Murphy would defeat U.S. Rep. David Jolly 38 percent to 34 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 41 percent to 33 percent and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 40 percent to 31 percent. Grayson trails Jolly 38 percent to 35 percent, but leads Lopez-Cantera 38 percent to 35 percent and DeSantis 40 percent to 34 percent.

Murphy, a second term congressman and one of the youngest Senate candidates in the country this year, was the top choice of Washington Democrats to run for the seat. Washington insiders have touted Murphy’s ability to win two elections in a competitive Atlantic coast district, saying that it would allow him to compete better statewide in Florida.

Grayson, a three-term congressman, is one of the most progressive members of Congress. A supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Grayson has largely followed the progressive playbook in his past races and has picked up national support within the progressive movement.

On the Republican side, Jolly leads in the primary polling released by PPP. The poll indicated that Jolly is backed by 26 percent of those surveyed, DeSantis 14 percent and Lopez-Cantera 11 percent. The poll showed two percent support for businessman Todd Wilcox.

Jolly, a longtime congressional staffer, has served in Congress since a March 2014 special election to succeed his late boss, Rep. Bill Young. He entered the Senate contest after court ordered redistricting eliminated his Gulf Coast district. DeSantis is a second term congressman and Iraq War veteran, while Lopez-Cantera is in his first term as lieutenant governor.

Lopez-Cantera, a former state House majority leader, has seen a rapid rise in Florida politics in recent years, where he had been a close Rubio ally in the state House of Representatives before his 2012 election as property appraiser of Miami-Dade County. He was appointed lieutenant governor in 2014 by Gov. Rick Scott (R) and elected to a full term later that year on Scott’s ticket.