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State Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) leads the race to succeed Jeff Miller as Northwest Florida’s congressional representative, according to a poll released today by a group calling itself “Citizens for a Just Government.”

The group, a not-for-profit corporation registered in February, describes itself as a “grassroots advocacy organization.” A message on the group’s website claims it was “formed in response to increasingly evident institutional corruption in local, state, and national government.”

Miller, who has served in Congress since 2001, announced last month that he would not seek re-election.

The poll, which was conducted between March 24-26, sampled 4,000 likely Republican voters across Florida’s six-county first congressional district, according to the group. The results found Evers leading the a field of five Republican candidates, with 23.4% of respondents saying they preferred Evers. State Rep. Matt Gaetz ranked second with 13.2%, while Brian Frazier, Cris Dosev, and Mark Wichern each registered in single digits.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.

Evers, center, in 2014. (Greg Evers/Special to The Pulse)

Evers, center, in 2014. (Greg Evers/Special to The Pulse)

Evers, who has served in the state legislature for nearly 15 years, has not yet declared he will run for Congress. Gaetz announced his campaign last month and has quickly picked up steam, raising some $350,000 over the first ten days of his campaign.

Thirty-three percent of those surveyed said they had a “favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of Evers, while 13 percent said they had an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion, compared to 17.2% and 18.6% on the same questions for Gaetz. The overwhelming majority of respondents had a neutral opinion or no opinion about both men — 53.9% for Evers and 64.2% for Gaetz.

Five Republican candidates — Gaetz, Frazier, Dosev, Wichern, and John Mills — have filed to run for the congressional seat. Mills, who filed on March 25, was not included in the poll. One Democrat, Amanda Kondrat’yev of Pensacola, is also running for the seat.

It’s unclear exactly who is behind Citizens for a Just Government. The address listed on the group’s state filing is a Pensacola residence owned by accountant Brian Tucker. The group’s registered agent is Tallahassee attorney Emmett Mitchell IV.

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