With Republican incumbent Kathleen Peters leaving the House District 69 seat in south Pinellas County, Democrats in Tallahassee are targeting it as a possible November pickup to boost their depleted forces in the state capitol.
But which Democrat?
While Jennifer Webb has better name recognition after a 2016 bid for the seat and currently with more cash on hand than any of the candidates in the race, she’s being challenged by St. Petersburg-based attorney Javier Centonzio, who is making a statement (of sorts) with a strong first month of fundraising.
In the first week of the year, Centonzio entered the race, and has raised $21,125 in January.
However, Webb surpassed him by bringing in $25,351 for January with $60,282 raised overall since entering the contest in November. Webb also has spent very little cash to date, and now has $57,951 cash on hand, the most of any candidate.
Meanwhile, two Republicans in the contest have more modest numbers for January.
Attorney Jeremy Bailie raised $6,600 last month, for $35,659 overall.
Entrepreneur Raymond Blacklidge raised $7,171 in January — having the most in the race to date with $89,047. He also spent $33,835 since entering the contest last summer.
Combined with the $21,500 cash on hand in his political committee, Blacklidge has the most cash on hand as well, with $76,714. Webb has $57,951.
Centonzio is working with consultant Meagan Salisbury with Blue Ticket Consultant, a favorite with Tampa Bay area Democrats to help fundraise. The question observers of this race will now look at is how well he does in fundraising next month.
Webb lost to Peters, 57 percent to 43 percent in 2016.
House District 69 covers south Pinellas beach communities from Redington Shores to Fort DeSoto, as well as portions of St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Kenneth City, and Pinellas Park.