Early voting is already underway for the August 28th primaries, but new straw polls in Tampa and Lakeland gauged how candidates may fair in November's general election.
The Lakeland and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce held straw polls Tuesday night, with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam decisively beating out all other gubernatorial candidates. Putnam, who is from Bartow in Polk County, received 67 percent of the vote in Lakeland. He also won heavily in Tampa, leading his Republican primary opponent Ron DeSantis by nearly 20 percentage points. Most of the recent polling has DeSantis in the lead statewide.
Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Andrew Gillum were virtually tied for second in the Tampa poll with 16.5 and 16.2 percent of the vote, respectively. Unlike Florida's closed primary system, straw poll participants were allowed to vote for their favorite candidate from any party.
Putnam was not the only local candidate who brought home a win. Ashley Moody, a Republican candidate for attorney general and a Plant City native, was a favorite of 52 percent of the voters in Tampa and 57 percent in Lakeland. Democrat Sean Shaw of Tampa took second in both polls.
The race to replace retired Congressman Dennis Ross divided along county lines, with State Representative Ross Spano of Brandon winning in Tampa and former State Representative Neil Combee from Polk City winning in Lakeland. The two are considered frontrunners in the Republican primary race for the 15th congressional district seat, which includes parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake Counties.
The Lakeland and Tampa Chamber straw polls had more than 350 participants each.