Crist opens strong lead in Fla. Senate race

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) has a wide, early lead in the race for Florida’s open Senate seat in 2010, according to one of the first polls since Crist declared his candidacy last week.

Crist leads former state House Speaker Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package MORE by a commanding total of 53 percent to 18 in a GOP primary, according to the poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. The moderate governor also beats Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek by 55 percent to 24 in a general election match-up, and Democratic state Sen. Dan Gelber by a 57 percent to 22 percent total.

The poll painted a much more wide-open race to replace Crist, however, with former congressman and current state Attorney General Bill McCollum at 40 percent versus 34 percent for the state’s Democratic chief financial officer, Alex Sink. The poll also found that one in four Florida voters are undecided about the gubernatorial contest.

“This poll shows there is plenty of room for the landscape to change,” said Ron Sachs, CEO of Tallahassee-based Ron Sachs Communications, which publicized the poll.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush has ruled out a return to the governor’s office, but the poll showed he would win handily — the brother of President Bush has a higher positive name recognition than any other GOP candidate and would defeat any Republican or Sink if he chose to seek the office again.

The poll surveyed 625 registered voters, was conducted from Thursday to Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.