Pinellas GOP releases straw poll on upcoming Primaries


Former prosecutor Kevin Hayslett is topping Anna Paulina Luna for the Republican nomination in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, according to a Pinellas County GOP straw poll conducted Sunday at a candidate showcase picnic.

The local party would not release specific numbers from the poll, but did share with Florida Politics the names of the candidates who polled highest in each race. The straw poll surveyed respondents on Republican Primary races in Pinellas County.

In CD 13, Hayslett took the lead among a crowded Republican field, including 2020 GOP nominee Luna, Republican strategist Amanda Makki, Moneer Kheireddine. and businesswoman Christine Quinn.

Without percentages provided, it’s unclear how large Hayslett’s win margin was, but one could infer from a recent Florida Influencer Poll that he only narrowly bested Luna. According to the Florida Influencer Poll, 83% of Influencers said Luna will repeat 2020 as the GOP nominee, while only 12% believe Hayslett can pull off a come-from-behind victory. Makki was the only other candidate to register, picking up the remaining 5%.

CD 13 candidates are running to replace outgoing Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as he runs for Governor. The Republican nominee will face Democrat Eric Lynn in the November General Election.

As for Florida House races, former Rep. Kimberly Berfield led the House District 58 field, and former prosecutor Berny Jacques was on top in House District 59, according to the new straw poll.

Berfield faces Jason Holloway and Jim Vricos in the HD 58 Primary.

Holloway, a former legislative aide for Sen. Darryl Rouson, has continued to put up a tough fight against Berfield in the fundraising realm, continuously outraising the former lawmaker throughout the election cycle. Since entering the race, Holloway has amassed $208,490 between his campaign and political committee, while Berfield has collected $86,286. Vricos has raised $13,065.

The candidates are running to replace Rep. Chris Latvala. Latvala is leaving office because of term limits, and has already endorsed Berfield as his preferred successor. The winner of the Republican Primary will go on to face Democrat Joseph Saportas, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Pinellas County Tax Collector in 2020, losing to incumbent Charles Thomas.

Jacques, a former prosecutor and former analyst for Bay News 9, faces Dipak Dinanath Nadkarni and Jennifer Wilson for the HD 59 Republican nomination. The three candidates are running to replace Nick DiCeglie in the House. The newly drawn House District 59 is located in Pinellas County and includes Largo, Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park and some of unincorporated Pinellas County. DiCeglie has endorsed Wilson as his preferred successor. The nominee will face Dawn Douglas in the November General Election.

As for the Pinellas County Commission races, the local party found Brian Scott winning the nomination for District 2, and incumbent Commissioner Dave Eggers winning re-election to District 4.

Scott faces Debbie Buschman in the GOP Primary. The victor of District 2’s Republican Primary will have to face incumbent Democratic Commissioner Pat Gerard. Gerard has held the seat since 2014.

Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard leads potential GOP opponent Brian Scott by 6 points, according to a new internal poll commissioned by the incumbent’s affiliated political committee, Friends of Pat Gerard.

Eggers faces Heather Aynne Vernillo in the Primary, and the winner will take the seat, since there is no Democratic candidate in the race.

The Pinellas County GOP also released poll results for the county School Board races, although nonpartisan. The polled winners include incumbent Lisa Cane (District 2), Dawn Peters (District 3), Stephanie Meyer (District 6) and Maria Di Fiore Solanki (District 7).

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