About five months before Election Day, Miami Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores leads Democratic newcomer Andrew Korge, according to a recent internal Republican poll of the District 39 contest.
The state Senate battle between Flores and Korge is one of the most closely watched and expensive legislative races this year.
In a survey of 302 likely general election voters three weeks ago, Flores had a 9 percentage-point advantage over Korge in a head-to-head matchup. Flores drew 40 percent support, compared to 31 percent for Korge. About 29 percent of respondents were undecided in the contest.
After hearing more about the two candidates, Flores' lead over Korge grew among respondents -- with 62 percent favoring her, 16 percent favoring Korge and 17 percent undecided.
The Florida Republican Senatorial Committee had the poll done May 20-22 as a $19,500 in-kind contribution to Flores' campaign, which she reported in her May campaign finance report.
Information about the poll was provided to the Herald/Times by a political consultant working with Flores' campaign and Sarah Bascom, on behalf of the FRSC. Specific questions asked of respondents and raw data of the poll results was not available.
The margin of error for the results is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.
The poll also found that Flores -- a lawmaker who has represented parts of Miami-Dade County since 2004 -- has stronger name recognition than her opponent. Korge is a first-time candidate, whose father, Chris Korge, is a prominent Democratic fundraiser in South Florida. More than 80 percent of respondents said they didn't know who Andrew Korge was, compared to about 60 percent who didn't know Flores.
The District 39 seat, newly redrawn because of redistricting, leans Democratic and Hispanic. The seat spans western and southern Miami-Dade County and Monroe County, including the Florida Keys. The area overlaps slightly with Flores' current district, but most of it is new territory for her.
District 39 is one of three hotly contested state Senate seats in Miami-Dade County that could help determine how strong the Republican majority in the chamber is next session. Democrats want to pick up a couple seats and narrow the gap. (The Senate currently has 26 Republicans and 14 Democrats.)
The FRSC poll asked respondents in District 39 which party they would vote for if the election were held now; about 44 percent said they'd pick a Republican candidate, 39 percent said they'd support a Democrat and 18 percent were undecided.