The latest Reuters/Zogby International poll — conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 — put Space ahead of Padgett by 45 percent to 36 percent.
Foley is under investigation by federal and Florida authorities for sending explicit computer messages to male congressional pages. Foley resigned on Sept. 29 when news reports surfaced about the e-mails and instant messages he sent the interns.
As more details surface about the way the Republican Party, especially House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., handled the scandal, some Republicans in close races are finding themselves even more vulnerable.
“It is defiantly a challenge to overcome,” said Padgett’s spokesman Morgan Ortagus in The Washington Post. “Voters are defiantly in a throw-the-bums-out mood.”
Hastert was scheduled to appear in a campaign fundraiser for Padgett on Monday, but was unable to attend because of changes last week in his travel plans, according to Ortagus. She declined to comment on whether Padgett would have still welcomed Hastert if his plans had not changed.
Padgett was hand-picked by Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, to replace him the race after he resigned and withdrew from running because of his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff is involved in a federal investigation into possible illegal exchanges of gifts and favors by lawmakers and staff.
After the Ney withdrawal and an ethics scandal that led to misdemeanor convictions for Republican Gov. Bob Taft, Space has been running a campaign based on the slogan “Let’s Clean up Congress!”
In a press statement calling for Padgett to cancel the fundraiser with Hastert and join him in calling for the House speaker to resign, Space said it was “another example that Padgett continues to align herself with the wrong agenda in Washington” and that “the people of the district are already sour from the Bob Ney scandal and crave change.”
Space said Padgett took a “wait-and-see” approach to Hastert’s involvement.
After the scandal, Padgett called Foley’s actions “particularly disgusting.”