Democrats choose Rubio and DeSantis opponents; here is the buzz on how they will fare

Primary season continued this week as Florida voters weighed in on their choice of candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, among other seats.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis had no Republican opposition and Tuesday’s primaries revealed who Democrats have lined up to challenge them in November. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) will move ahead to challenge DeSantis while Rubio will fight to hold his seat against Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.)

Crist left Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the dust as he went on to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary with 59.7% of the vote, according to NPR. Crist, the political party-hopping Democrat, served as Florida’s governor more than a decade ago as a Republican and will now face off against the highly popular DeSantis, whom he called a “bully” and “dangerous” in his victory speech Tuesday.

Though Fried lost to Crist, she threw her support behind him in the effort to unseat DeSantis in November.

A University of North Florida poll released last week showed that Crist has his work cut out for him, garnering only 42% of the survey votes to DeSantis’ 50% in the poll of 1,624 registered Florida voters.

According to the poll:

Registered voters who said they would vote in the general midterm election were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, and the candidates were Ron DeSantis and Nikki Fried.

Fifty percent of respondents said they would vote for DeSantis, with 43% indicating a vote for Fried, and 5% said they would vote for someone else. DeSantis also came out on top with 50% when asked the same question if the Democratic candidate was Charlie Crist, who had 42%, and 6% saying they would vote for someone else.

 

That survey, conducted from Aug. 8 to Aug. 12, also showed Demings “came out on top in the head-to-head against Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate, with 48% indicating a vote for Demings and 44% for Rubio, with 7% saying they would vote for someone else.”

Other polls have also indicated that DeSantis comes out ahead in a head-to-head with Crist.

In a Cherry Communications poll earlier this month, 87% of Republicans and 48% of independents backed DeSantis with Crist having 43% support among independents. That survey of 608 registered voters, conducted from Aug. 4 to Aug. 15, also showed DeSantis leading the now-Democrat Crist 51%-43%.

“In selecting Crist on Tuesday, Florida Democrats sided with a candidate backed by many in the party’s establishment who viewed him as the safest choice, even after he lost his previous two statewide elections,” an Associated Press report indicated after the votes were in Tuesday. “The 66-year-old moderate, who served as Florida’s Republican governor a decade ago, hopes to appeal to voters in Florida’s teeming suburbs as Democrats seek to reverse a losing pattern in a state that was recently seen as a perennial political battleground.”

In the Senate race, Demings sailed to victory in the Democrat primary.

“Demings, 65, the former Orlando Police chief who’s served three terms in Congress, dominated the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, besting her closest opponent with about 85% of the vote by 8 p.m. She’s running to become the first Black U.S. Senator from Florida,” the Miami Herald reported.

The same University of North Florida poll cited earlier showed Demings ahead of GOP Senator Rubio who she will now face in November. Another progressive poll had Demings and Rubio tied at 46%.

The Hub’s poll late last month noted that Demings “is competitive in spite of roughly 1-in-3 Florida voters not knowing who she is (36% favorable / 30% unfavorable / 34% cannot rate). Rubio is unpopular, with 43% favorable / 52% unfavorable.”

A  poll from the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab showed Demings leading over Rubio, 48% to 44%. The survey of 1,624 registered Florida voters, which was conducted online from August 8-12 via email and had Fried ahead of Crist in the gubernatorial race, was dismissed by Rubio.

The senator contended that “we should have learned our lesson not to listen to the polls.”

“So I just don’t pay attention to those things, particularly the North Florida poll, which was an email poll. They emailed people,” Rubio added.

Meanwhile, another poll of  996 registered voters showed Rubio with 52% to Demings’ 41% support.

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Frieda Powers

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