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Palm Coast Mayor: Tea Party Straw Poll Has Ericksen Far Ahead of Netts, 59-36%

| September 6, 2011

The three: from left, Joe Cunnane, Charlie Ericksen and Jon Netts. (© FlaglerLive)

The numbers are stunning–if they are, in fact, reflective of the electorate most likely to cast a ballot in the race for Palm Coast mayor. It is a big if for several reasons.

First, the results.

In a Flagler County Tea Party straw poll conducted online and involving 205 responses, the results were as follows:

Charlie Ericksen, 121 votes, 59 percent.
Incumbent Jon Netts, 73 votes, 35.6 percent.
Joe Cunnane, 11 votes, 5.4 percent.

There are between 1,00 and 1,200 Tea Party members in the county, Tea Party Chairman Tom Lawrence said on Wednesday, with 700 to 800 of them in Palm Coast. “So we got about 25 percent response from the city residents, which is statistically significant,” Lawrence said. “I would have liked more but I was pleased that we got the response we got.”

The poll was conducted through Survey Monkey, a very popular surveying tool, commonly used media organizations, schools and governments. An email was sent to each tea party member registered by that email, with the link to the survey. That email address could only vote once. If, as in the case of Lawrence and his wife, two Tea Party members were registered under the same email, they would only have one vote.

By polling standards, it’s not a scientific tool. The sample is also quite low. It sampled a very particular kind of voter. And non-resident, non-registered voters could have taken part.

So the results, while very likely indicative of trends, must be taken with a grain–or a pile–of salt.

Still, the results of the local Tea Party poll were lopsided enough to surprise even Ericksen.

“I thought it would be pretty even with the incumbent,” Ericksen said on Tuesday. “I didn’t do anything to seek the tea party vote, but I do go to their meetings, I do talk to many tea partiers, because they are voters. I couldn’t limit my campaign against an experienced politician to one group of people. I’m trying to get out to as many people as possible.”

He added a caveat about the Tea Party: “It’s just one group of voters that are out there, and it’s just one indication. I’m not overreacting to it.”

Netts, too, was not overreacting. “I don’t know to what extent the tea party is representative of the electorate as a whole,” he said. Was he surprised by the result? “Not really, not when you consider that the Tea Party, at least initially, held a fund-raiser for Ericksen, McGuire and Cross, so they clearly or at least a faction of them support those three candidates.” Bill McGuire and Dennis Cross are running for city council seats.

In fact, there was a fund-raiser, but not one sponsored by the Tea Part, Lawrence said. “There were some people in the camps of the candidates who tried very hard to portray these people as the tea party candidates,” Lawrence said, “so I can understand why Jon would think that, because that’s what those people were trying to portray it as, but it has nothing to do with the tea party.”

Ironically for both serious candidates, Cunnane’s numbers, while predictably low, may be a more accurate gauge of the straw poll’s validity as a whole for being close to what Cunnane’s numbers always are in a local race: somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. In other words there was nothing aberrant in Cunnane’s abysmal showing, which may mean that the two other numbers aren’t aberrant, either.

Cunnane, at any rate, used as he is to losing, and eager, as always, to score one-liners, wasn’t troubled: “That’s wonderful,” he said of the numbers. “I don’t want the tea party support I guess Netts doesn’t either.” He added: “The whole thing is insignificant as far as I’m concerned.”

Early voting started on August 29 at the public library in Palm Coast, with close to 1,000 ballots cast by now. With a week yet to go in early voting, a fifth to a third of voters may have cast a ballot by Election Day on Sept. 13. The turnout is expected to be very low. In the last primary election for mayor, in 2007, just 6,442 people voted, a turnout of just 16.8 percent of Palm Coast’s 38,695 registered voters. (Netts handily won that one, with 63 percent of the vote. Cunnane got just under 10 percent.)

Ericksen has been campaigning–particularly at the library, where he’s been every day, and likely picking up free votes from people who don’t even know voting is going on. They approach him, he educates them (the Ericksen way, naturally), they vote for him. Netts has not been campaigning at the library location, essentially ceding the ground to Ericksen. In a close election, those votes could be the difference, though Netts also has the establishment vote in his pocket: when he appears at clubs and societies–even the Democratic club at Grand Haven, though he’s a Republican–the enthusiasm is his to reap.

But appearing at big events isn’t enough in local, contested campaigns. When Netts spoke on Tuesday, he’d just ended a shift for the tow boat company he works with part-time, and said he was “doing my job as mayor.” Between work and the office’s obligations, he said, it “doesn’t leave an awful lot of time to be campaigning.”

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18 Responses for “Palm Coast Mayor: Tea Party Straw Poll Has Ericksen Far Ahead of Netts, 59-36%”

  1. County Worker says:

    When are they going to put an age cap on elected officials? There combined age must be at least 300!

  2. PJ says:

    They say polls never mean much. How about this thought?

    The spirit is there for change. Even if just the few people were in this survey the poll reflects the change the people want.

    Now if Joe Cunnane would drop out and get his folks to vote for Ericksen we can get this done.

    Remember Ericksen don’t renew the Landon contract. We can get a well qualified city Manager that is better for us and for less money.

  3. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    I’m not so sure, where my opponent gets his information, but the initial fund raiser for my campaign, held in Bunnell, was not sponsored by, nor “held by”, the Tea Party. It is all well documented in the required campaign reports filed with the City Clerk. I represent myself, to all the voters in Palm Coast, as a person seeking elected office for the first time, and my party affiliation is on record with the Supervisor of Elections. Let’s get back to the task at hand, and continue the campaigns.

  4. Bill McGuire says:

    There appears to be an error in this story. The Tea Party has not held a fund raiser for ANY candidate to my knowledge. Further, the Tea Party has not contributed to any local candidate, either monetarily or verbally. The Tea Party’s policy is to not support any local candidate in any way.

  5. Teapartysupporter says:

    Its news to me that the the Tea Party has supported any candidate for these PC elections. If they had fund raiser they didn’t invite me.

  6. BW says:

    Here’s what I’m surprised at . . . the Tea Party held a straw poll. The last time this came up with the group, Mr. Lawrence declined to do it because he didn’t feel the Tea Party should back any one candidate or stance. Regardless of what people say, in my opinion it shows an implied support by the group of candidates.

    I thank them for doing so, because it just better clarifies who I am NOT voting for which is anyone backed, backed, supported, or preferred by the Tea Party.

  7. Rob says:

    There will be at least one new face and one new perspective on the town council, guaranteed.

    If there is any weight to this poll then another one is almost down and out. There is one more to go.
    Now is not the time to assume someone else will vote, get up and get out there and cast your vote for change.

    This town is in dire need of a change in the manner that this city government operates.

    I met Mr. Ericksen and asked him if he is associated with/ a member of the tea party. He assured me that he is not, so he got my vote.

  8. Yogi says:

    The tea party values are a Constitutionally limited government, fiscal restraint, and free markets. Does that mean there are people who would vote for candidates that want to trample the Constitution, spend money we don’t have, and control markets? That doesn’t sound very good for a person to try to run a business in this town, express an unpopular but principled point of view, or expect to be treated justly by the government because there is no true following of the rule of law.

  9. Donna says:

    Lets set the record straight folks. The tea party did not hold a fundraiser for any of these candidates. The tea party people show up at all political events. Both Republican and Democratic club meetings as well. To paint this picture that Mr. Ericksen is in bed with the tea party is just not so. However, I do believe that John Walsh of the Palm Coast Observer held a fundraiser for Mr. Netts and shortly after did a 2 full page endorsement, endorsing Jon Netts. So who is in bed with who? Whats fair is fair and lets be clear here. Flaglerlive has been very fair and balanced to all the candidates. I’m not sure if I can say the same about the other news outlets.

  10. Jack Howell says:

    I have known Charlie Ericksen for several years. He has a passion for government that is streamlined, efficient and is totally against fraud, waste and abuse. He is not a member or has ever been a member of the Tea Party!

    It is time for change in Palm Coast. It is time to have a Mayor that has all his ducks in a row. It is time for a Mayor who is honest to a fault and sincerely cares for the citizens of Palm Coast. You all know the joke about” how you can tell if a politician is lying?” His lips are moving. When Charlie Ericksen moves his lips, he is speaking nothing but the truth. No smoke and mirrors. When Charlie gets elected, Landon can pack his bags.

  11. Lin says:

    I don’t care what group is smart enough to support change for our city — I know I don’t want the status quo same old., same old regime here in Palm Coast.

    Today, I saw (coming back from out of town) two beautiful signs announcing Palm Coast near 95 — off 100 Town Center nicely constructed signs and then drove through fields of nothing to get to Belle Terre. What a shame what has happened to our City in the last few years — yes, the economy in general is a mess but
    Whoever was Mayor or Council member needs to take responsibility for the decisions that THEY MADE during their terms.

    Who was on the Council when we threw money down the black hole of the golf course/tennis court, road improvements for a company that did not come here nor provide jobs? Who made these decisions?
    Who sent Landon out to lobby the citizens for a new City Hall? 5 times?


    I hope county worker is joking about age limits.

  12. Teapartysupporter says:

    BW, Yogi said it better than I could have said “The tea party values are a Constitutionally limited government, fiscal restraint, and free markets. Does that mean there are people who would vote for candidates that want to trample the Constitution, spend money we don’t have, and control markets,” That sounds like foundation on which this country was built. If you don;t believe in these values in what do you believe?

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Ericksen got our vote and our friends also. None of us is a Tea Party Member or much less fan. Remember no sales tax increases for ED..if elected as we need to keep here all what our businesses can sell. Be wary of the FCCOC…they do not represent 90 percent of the 9,000 small businesses in this county. They represent themselves and the local circle of elite (and now R. Scott) around them and their special interest. Many conflict of interest are taking place at VP’s level inside that organization.
    Well….is a private organization and they can do as they please, right? NO, if they receive tax payers grants! TDC grants are tax payers monies, even if, from tourist! Pegy Hiser is alsopaid totally or partially as well by TDC aka tax payers monies originated in Flagler Cty, while she resides and spends in Volusia County.

  14. SAW says:

    Both PC and the “tea baggers” need some new leadership, they should consider sending Mr.Lawrence down the road with KING Jon.
    Lawrence has to be considered a fox in the hen house, it is clear as day, that his goals are not aligned with those of the average resident taxpayer, what is so hard for the baggers to understand here ?

    Check out his background, he is from the spend tax payer money group, not the lower our taxes group.

  15. dealingwithidiots1 says:

    We need to vote out ALL incumbents and start fresh

  16. Jack Howell says:

    I agree 100% with SAW. The Palm Coast tea baggers need to get a life. Mr. Lawrence and his crew from Grand Haven are marching to the beat of a different drummer. I don’t think, that collectively, they can see the trees through the forest. Just my observation from the tea bagger postings I’ve read. I am neither a Democrat nor Republican. I vote for the best qualified and do my research on the issues. I don’t march in lock step to the blind loyalty of “The Party”. I shed blood for my country so I have this right to express my thoughts!

  17. Layla says:

    SHAME on you tea partiers for supporting less government spending and lower taxes! Just who do you think you are?!

    Are you people kidding me? You need to thank these people for standing up for the rest of us.

    Wouldn’t be a need for a tea party if everyone would stay involved. Would you please tell me what’s wrong with holding politicians accountable?

  18. John Boy says:

    I’m more and more convinced that the Tea Baggers are simply greedy. Most I know are receiving SS and medicare or are protected from future cuts because they are all over 54. If you want to take away future generations benefits while keeping your own, you are a financial and political torrists.

    Rick Scott, Rick Perry and other say that SS, Medicare are illegal, ponzi schemes but will keep it alive for current receipients, if it’s illegal, close them down completely. Then see let’s the Tea Baggers reaction?

    Tea Baggers for some reason refuse to work within the system to improve government, they would rather destroy it as long as they are exampt from the consequences.

    How about arresting and putting all Tea Baggers on trial for treason?

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