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Florida: 12th District Democrat Benefits From Tea Party

In a three-way race for the open House seat in the 12th district, the divided loyalties of conservatives are boosting prospects for Democrat Lori Edwards, according to internal polling released by the Edwards campaign.

It’s exactly what Democrats hoped would happen with both a Republican and a Tea Party candidate in the general election.

According to the internal poll, Edwards, the Polk County supervisor of elections, was favored by 35 percent of the likely voters surveyed, with Republican Dennis Ross at 32 percent, which is within the poll’s 5-point margin of error with 32 percent. Tea Party candidate Randy Wilkinson was favored by 20 percent.

Edwards’ poll found that Wilkinson, a county commissioner, pulls about twice as many voters from Ross as from Edwards; 18 percent of Republicans and more than a third of self-described Republican-leaning independents said they support the Tea Party candidate.

Ross spokesman Fred Piccolo said the poll shows that more than half of the electorate wants to vote for a conservative.

“The tea party movement is behind Dennis Ross and as we actually begin the campaign, those voters will coalesce behind the only conservative who can win,” Piccolo said.

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