Libertarian Adrian Wyllie Could Sink Charlie Crist's Campaign Hopes, Poll Finds

Who the hell is Adrian Wyllie? Well, he's a military vet, an IT consultant and the host of a libertarian radio talk show in Pinellas County. He also might just be Charlie Crist's worst nightmare.

That's because Wyllie is running for Florida governor on the Libertarian ticket and a new poll out this morning finds that throwing the radio host into the race turns a clear-cut Crist lead into a chaotic, impossible-to-call contest.

"Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not, at this point, a serious contender to win the governorship," says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "But he may have a great deal to say about who does win."

The new Quinnipiac poll sampled 1,251 Florida voters last week, first on whether they'd vote for Crist or Rick Scott this fall and then again on the same question but with Wyllie thrown into the mix.

The results are striking. In the first instance, with just the two choices, Crist beats Scott 45-40, a result within the poll's 2.8 percent margin of error.

But with Wyllie added as a choice, the Libertarian pulls in 9 percent of the vote, sparking a statistical tie on top, with 39 percent for Crist and 37 for Scott.

Further diving into Quinnipiac's data finds that the Libertarian hurts Crist by snatching away the increasingly important independent voters. Independents favor Crist over Scott by 45 to 38 percent, but in a three-way-race fracture into 36 for Crist, 34 for Scott and 12 for Wyllie.

Part of the support may be due to sheer ignorance, though; the poll also found that 92 percent of voters had never heard of Wyllie. Many of the votes he's dragged out in the latest poll may simply be protests by voters not keen on the Democrats or the Republicans.

Crist and Scott have also already spent millions sliming each other with campaign ads, while Wyllie has been free to craft his own image on the outside. The result is that both Crist and Scott get low marks for character in the poll.

"Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who aren't

keen on either of the major party candidates," Brown says.

It's possible that those independent votes could skew back toward the Democrats once they know more about Wyllie. Then again, Crist might just have a Ralph Nader problem on his hands in November.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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