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Defeated in November, Ray Blacklidge eyes 2020 rematch vs. Jennifer Webb

Ray Blacklidge appears to have already started campaigning for House District 69 despite losing his first bid less than one month ago.

Blacklidge lost to Democrat Jennifer Webb, who now represents the West St. Petersburg and mid-Pinellas County district, but his campaign Facebook page now reflects a 2020 logo.

Blacklidge did not respond to a request for comment, but his Facebook activity on his official campaign page reflects consistent voter engagement since losing the race 53 to 47 percent on Nov. 6.

It’s unclear when Blacklidge updated his Facebook campaign page to reflect a new political cycle, but he has posted nearly every day since Election Day.

Blacklidge never wrote officially that he was running again, but he has reminded voters several times that he would be continuing his engagement in Florida political discourse. In one post he said he would be traveling to Tallahassee to fight for insurance reform, including on issues surrounding flood insurance.

As early as Nov. 13, just one week after Election Day, Blacklidge wrote urging his supporters to “continue engaging in constructive dialogue with your neighbors and colleagues.”

Our country is grappling with a season of divisiveness and destructive rhetoric. As we move forward, I encourage you not to recede from the public square,” Blacklidge wrote.

Since then, he has posted links to articles and studies documenting mishaps in the insurance industry and promising to fight to protect consumers from rampant claims abuse.

Blacklidge, an insurance executive himself, made that a cornerstone of his 2018 campaign, blaming fraudulent insurance claims for soaring premiums.

His campaign finance activity was buoyed by the insurance industry as he promised during public events to cut back on claim filings.

Meantime, Webb has already been spending time meeting with constituents in her district and in Tallahassee as she readies her office there.

“For now I’m focused on meeting with constituents, area businesses and local leaders so I can best represent our district in Tallahassee. Of course I’ll have opposition in 2020, but now is the time for learning the process and setting up my office so I can be an effective advocate for my constituents,” Webb said.

Webb told Florida Politics she’s spending time discussing issues with constituents to determine where best to focus her efforts. She replaced Republican Kathleen Peters who ran successfully for the Pinellas County Commission.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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