Businessman Craig Miller is claiming the early lead in a Republican primary that most voters in Florida’s battleground 24th district clearly haven’t tuned into yet. Miller, former CEO of Ruth’s Chis restaurants, released an internal campaign poll Tuesday that showed him with 17 percent of the vote in the five-way race.
The poll identifies state Rep. Sandy Adams as Miller’s closest primary competitor, preferred by 11 percent of those polled, while Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel barely registered, preferred by just 3 percent of those surveyed. Two other candidates also showed up in the low single digits.
But here’s the really important number: 65 percent of Republican voters polled said they were undecided. With less than two months go before the Aug. 24 primary, that leaves a lot of room for movement.
The survey of 300 likely 24th district GOP primary voters was conducted for Miller by the GOP polling firm McLaughlin & Associates on June 28-29. It had a 6-point margin of error. The winner of the primary will face freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D), a top Republican target.
Since joining the race in late February, Miller mostly has been known for his ability to self-fund. In late June, he cut a $100,000 check to his campaign to buy his first television ad, a biographical piece that talks about his work as a businessman rather than a politician. Miller has put at least $340,000 of his own money into the contest since filing in February.
Miller, Diebel and Adams have yet to release their second-quarter fundraising reports, but Miller was the money leader at the end of March.
Kosmas has been an aggressive fundraiser, but her political standing is shaky in a politically volatile Orlando-area district. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won 51 percent of the vote in the 24th district during the 2008 White House election as Kosmas was defeating scandal-tinged Rep. Tom Feeney (R) 57 percent to 41 percent.