[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/19/art.crist.0819.jpg caption="Crist holds on to primary lead as appointment questions linger."]
(CNN) - A new poll suggests Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is holding on to a clear advantage over his Republican primary opponent in next year's Senate race. But it's far from clear who he'll be facing – or replacing.
On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart declined a Crist invitation to submit a formal application for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, who is stepping down early. Several candidates reportedly remain in the running, including state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, who met with the governor Wednesday and plans to apply for the post. If Carroll were appointed, she would be the first black Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, and the only African-American member of the GOP in the current Congress.
Crist - who continues to hold a sizeable cash advantage over the former speaker of the state's House of Representatives, Marco Rubio – is maintaining a similar edge in the Quinnipiac survey released Wednesday.
Fifty-five percent of Florida's registered Republicans said that they would back Crist in the GOP Senate primary – more than double the 26 percent behind Rubio, who's counting on strong support from a conservative base unhappy with the National Republican Senatorial Committee's early decision to back the governor's Senate bid. Eighteen percent remain undecided.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek is holding on to a narrow edge in the race for the party's 2010 nod. Eighteen percent of the state's Democrats support Meek, with 12 percent backing Rep. Ron Klein, and 9 percent behind Rep. Corrine Brown. But a clear majority – 57 percent – of the state's Democrats have yet to choose a candidate.
The Quinnipiac poll of 1,136 Florida voters questioned by telephone was conducted August 12-17 has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.6 percent for the 446 Republican voters questioned and 4.7 percent for the 434 Democrats questioned.
"Carroll were appointed, she would be the first black Republican woman to serve in the U.S. Senate"
Take the hateful sexist comments that every Democrat in this country, voter, media, and politican directs at Sarah Palin and add that to the hateful racist libs rhetoric that a majority of Democrats have directed at Clarence Thomas and even Colin Powell before last summer, and you can see that this woman is going to be subjected to the kind of Democratic hate, racism and sexism that is so severe, evil, and militant that Dr. King will be rolling over in his grave. I hope that she has good security, the Chicago thugs and their lib-bots will want to seriously harm not just her but her whole family as well.
Marco Rubio has no chance of winning the primary or the general election because he panders to the far social-conservative right.
a great first step for florida! rainbow pride! great news for the LBGT citizens of FL
This Governor can very well nominate a Jennifer Carroll and then tell her not to run for re-election. Otherwise she was never qualified for the spot to begin with.
If Crist wants this spot, he should take it now. Let voters see how he does and if he passes the grade he gets to keep the job ...
That's American meritocracy ... something the GOP claims it supports.
Boy, Martinez must be unhappy with his party to put the hurt on them like this. No matter what Crist does, it helps the Democrats in the general election.
Crist has been a joke as Governor of Florida! He ran as a conservative Republican and has governed like a liberal Democrat, a real polished career politician. If Crist wins this senate seat, he will be an Obama lap dog buying in to the whole liberal agenda of Global warming, Cap and Trade, Government healthcare and increased Government control!
He is one of the few decent republicans left. An endangered species for sure.
Martinez created a bit of a problem for Crist. Since he has to appoint someone who will step downnext year. When that appointee gets to D.C. and gets all those perks and health care donations, they will want to run again.
Good luck Gov. Crist.
As an Indepepndent that supported Crist in the past, I now have reservations on his Sotomayor position and his position on HCR. In other words I was going to votew for him, but now I am very werey of doing so ;(
The troubling thing about politics is that we continue to hear the same names and see the same faces year after year. The ideas haven't changed in decades–and one of the reasons is the families who continue to run our governments won't yield their power. Typically, these families just continue to seek MORE power and more of our money. It looks like Florida will be preserving the political tradition in 2010.
What is so interesting about this poll is that Crist is still holding a substantial lead over Rubio, despite the ranting and raving of the Right over Crist accepting stimulus money. People are wising up to the idea that its performance, not ideology, that truly counts.
Hi! My names Charlie Crist and I want to be your senator here in Florida. I follow radio shock jocks and television hate mongers for inspiration!! I promise to turn down that socialist stimulus money and wear teabags on my head. Vote for me ...or else you're not a true American....
As a Florida resident, I can certainly testify to Crist's laughable "Republican" credentials. He's about as Republican as Senator Specter. He's thrown his full support to the liberal Democratic agenda since Obama's election. He's just another career politician hoping to climb the political power ladder. If Crist wins the Republican primary, I'll definitely be voting Democrat! The Democrat candidate will likely be more conservative than Crist!