Marleine Bastien, Frederica Wilson Leading Crazed Race For Meek's Seat, Poll Says

The crazed, Milwaukee sausage race of a contest to replace Kendrick Meek in Congress might finally be winnowing down to the real contenders, at least based on a poll released this afternoon.

The survey of 400 Democrats shows activist Marleine Bastien and state Sen. Frederica Wilson in a virtual tie for first place with a week and a half to go before the primary. But it also finds nearly a quarter of voters in the mostly black district haven't decided whom to vote for yet -- which might just leave the door open for big spendin' Rudy Moise!

The poll was commissioned by the Florida New Majority -- a group that has endorsed Bastien, so take that into account.

But pollster Stephen Clermont of D.C.-based Third Eye Strategies says the numbers came from a live telephone poll of 400 registered Dems in District 17 who had voted in a previous primary election. In other words, it's probably as close to an unbiased look as we've gotten into the race as it stands today.

His pollsters found Bastien and Wilson snagging 22 and 21 percent of the vote, respectively. Rudy Moise -- whose eccentric past and self-bankrolled campaign we profiled last week -- holds third place with 10 percent, one point ahead of Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson.

"Marleine has clearly made a lot of progress recently," Clermont says. "Marleine, Wilson and Gibson all show very favorably among likely voters."

The most telling number of all in the survey, though, is the 24 percent of voters who described themselves as "undecided." That means any one of the candidates could sneak through the eight-way primary with a strong push leading up to the Aug. 24 vote.

Moise still figures to have the most cash to burn, thanks to the more than $1 million of his own money he's poured into the race. He reported $1.4 million in funds in his last quarterly report, a huge lead over second-place Wilson's $205,108.

"There's no clear leader," Clermont says. "This is a wide-open race."

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