Mayoral Candidates Not Polls Apart on Survey

Except for petty sniping about fund-raising, jibes over some amateur sleuthing and chagrin from a pollster gaffe, the mayor’s race stayed off the political radar during the latter, climatic stages of the primary and on into the general election. But that profile has heightened in the wake of a detailed poll published by the St. Petersburg Times .

The poll also yielded an interesting result: the three leading candidates — a frontrunner, an old timer and a newcomer — couldn’t be happier with the findings.

The Times’ telephone poll, conducted by Communications Center Inc. of Lakeland, surveyed Tampa residents familiar with the race. The result: 25 percent backed City Councilman Bob Buckhorn, a familiar name and early frontrunner; 21 percent named Charlie Miranda, the folksy, 60-something City Council chairman; and 19 percent supported Frank Sanchez, the return-of-the-native, first-time candidate for elective office. For all intents — given the 5 percent margin of error — it’s a toss-up right now.

“It reflects what we’ve been seeing,” says Buckhorn. “My own polling tells me that the issues people care about are in line with what my campaign is talking about: neighborhoods, safety, ethics in government — the fundamental things that affect the quality of people’s lives. This is about who knows the potholes, the cracks in the sidewalk, the dope dealers. When we hire a mayor, we want someone to fix problems and run the city

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