August 14, 2012 at 11:18 am
NAPLES — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s announcement that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan is his running mate could shrink the margin in a heated race by six GOP candidates for Southwest Florida’s congressional District 19 seat.
Romney’s announcement came Saturday, about a week after the Wisconsin Republican’s visit here to endorse Chauncey Goss of Sanibel, a former staff member who helped Ryan draw up the Republicans’ version of the budget.
“I think the announcement of Paul Ryan as the vice presidential running mate will not only give our campaign a boost, but it will also give the country a boost,” Goss said. “It shows that governor Romney is serious about addressing our economy with real spending and revenue reforms.”
Goss, 46, who operates a fiscal policy analysis firm, once served as deputy staff director for the U.S. House Budget Committee.
Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said the announcement likely wouldn’t have a huge effect because it’s so close to the primary and some people already have voted. But she agreed nothing is certain in a race where only 18,000 to 20,000 votes are needed to win.
“Anything could happen in a close race,” she said. “That might help a bit among Republicans, but not significantly. When you have a crowded field like this, it’s the personal contact that pushes someone toward a candidate. It’s not going to take a huge percentage to win.”
Sheryl Wooley, Goss’ campaign manager, said Romney’s announcement gives a nudge to Goss’ campaign. “Now people really know who (Ryan) is,” Wooley added.
Radio ads featuring Ryan’s endorsement aired for days before Saturday’s announcement, Wooley said, but due to time and cost, they opted not to change the TV ads to note Ryan’s selection Saturday by adding video to the audio.
A Public Policy Polling Survey by the News-Press on Wednesday and Thursday showed 14 percent of 500 people who voted, or who intend to vote, support Goss.
The poll showed Goss trailed state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, 50, a Cape Coral builder who garnered 16 percent and stateRep. Paige Kreegel, 53, a Punta Gorda physician and farmer, who had 23 percent.Trey Radel, 36, of Fort Myers, a popular conservative talk show host and entrepreneur, led at 25 percent.
Close behind Goss was Byron Donalds, 33, a Naples commercial credit officer, with 13 percent, while Naples lawyerJoe Davidow, 28, grabbed just 2 percent, according to the poll, which has a 4.38 percent margin of error.
Kreegel couldn’t be reached, but Radel, who was endorsed by incumbent Rep. Connie Mack IV, considers Ryan a great choice for vice president. Radel added, however: “As to whether it will affect our race politically, I’ll leave that one to the politicians to debate.”
Aubuchon doesn’t think it will have an effect, according to his campaign spokesman, Josh Cooper, who added: “Gary is focused on getting out his supporters tomorrow.”
Donalds praised the choice, but doesn’t think it will affect the District 19 race.
He is counting on Radel, Kreegel, Aubuchon and Goss splitting the Lee County votes and enabling Collier GOP voters to push a candidate to the top. Donalds has stepped up phone calls and sign waving in Collier and Lee counties.
”Those are four very big names in Lee County,” Donalds said. “Hopefully, in Collier County, we’ll gain the advantage.”
The newly drawn District 19 covers parts of Charlotte and Lee counties and the coastal portions of Collier County, including Naples and Marco Island.
Davidow, 28, has studied past primary turnout and has targeted voters by neighborhood, banking on more Collier GOP voters giving him an edge.
“Collier is going to change it,” Davidow said of the race, adding that he doesn’t think the Ryan announcement will make a difference. “The voters are tired of being told who to vote for. I think we need more leaders — and endorsements tell you who the followers are. What America needs is not more endorsements, it’s more jobs and a better economy.”