A poll taken in late August shows former state Sen. Dave Aronberg trouncing current Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe in a hypothetical Democratic primary matchup for the job as the county’s top prosecutor.
The poll, taken Aug. 23-25, surveyed 400 Palm Beach County Democratic primary voters and found that if the election were held today, Aronberg would get 42 percent of the votes to McAuliffe’s 27 percent, with 32 percent undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
Aronberg, a Harvard Law School graduate, represented parts of Palm Beach and four other counties as a state senator from 2002-2010. He then ran for and lost the Democratic nomination for Florida attorney general to Dan Gelber, a Miami Democrat who lost the general election to the current attorney general, Republican Pam Bondi.
But soon after the 2010 elections, Aronberg joined Bondi’s team as a special counsel helping to lead what became a very successful crackdown on pill mills. The popular Democrat hasn’t said whether he will jump into the state attorney’s race next fall, and some have wondered whether he would leave the post in Bondi’s office.
Meanwhile, the one-term state attorney has drawn some negative attention from critics. The Florida Commission on Ethics recentlydismissed a complaint accusing McAuliffe of dropping police brutality-related charges to curry favor with, and the endorsement of, the Police Benevolent Association for his reelection campaign.
The ethics charge may have been dropped, but McAuliffe suffered a major drop in fundraising last quarter as rumors of an Aronberg candidacy spread, and political insiders consider him vulnerable.
On a side note, Palm Beach County commissioners have little to celebrate either. Respondents were also asked, “Generally speaking, do you feel things in Palm Beach County are going in the right direction, or do you feel things have gotten off on the wrong track?” Nearly half (49 percent) answered that the county had veered onto the wrong track, 30 percent said it was on the right track and 22 percent were unsure.
As to the McAuliffe-Aronberg poll, I’m sure McAuliffe supporters will dispute its numbers, and Aronberg supporters will cheer them. That’s the way politics works. But the very fact that polls are being taken means that McAuliffe’s reelection campaign may not be quite the walk in the park he would prefer it to be.
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