Ray Blacklidge reels in $12K as HD 69 Republican primary looms


Madeira Beach attorney Ray Blacklidge posted another healthy round of campaign finance reports ahead of his head-to-head showdown with St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie in the Republican primary for Pinellas County’s House District 69.

The new reports, covering Aug. 4 through Aug. 10, show Blacklidge tacked on $2,200 in hard money and another $10,000 for his affiliated political committee, Friends of Ray Blacklidge, making for $215,500 raised thus far. Bailie, meanwhile, reported $1,600 in new money for an overall fundraising total of $78,240 at the end of the reporting period.

Blacklidge’s campaign report included a max check from the Committee of Florida Agents, a political committee that represents independent contractor insurance agents. The committee cash also came in from the insurance industry, with the Florida Insurance Council political committee and commercial insurance company FCCI Services chipping in $5,000 apiece.

Spending measured in at $20,408 between the two accounts, with the largest item on the ledger being a $12,000 contribution to Florida First Forever, a political committee that has been linked to other funds set up to run attack ads against candidates in state elections. Another $4,820 was spent on consulting services via Front Line Strategies, with most of the remaining spending paying for canvassing work.

At the end of the reporting period, Blacklidge had $70,056 at the ready between his two accounts.

Bailie’s new money came in across four checks, including $500 contributions from West Palm Beach-based White Rock Quarries, the Florida Bankers Association political committee and Resort Inns of America, which runs TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach.

Spending for the week came in at a light $1,828, with $1,010 paying for campaign staff and $815 paying for printing and mailing services through political consulting firm Strategic Image Management.

As it stands, Bailie has $32,160 in his campaign account.

Bailie and Blacklidge are competing to succeed Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters, who is leaving the state House before hitting term limits to run for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

A recent poll of the two-way primary found Blacklidge with a 48-23 percent lead over Bailie with 29 percent of likely Republican primary voters undecided two weeks out from the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The poll was conducted Aug. 13, just a few days after Bailie made negative headlines for swiping hand tags placed by Blacklidge canvassers.

The winner of the Bailie v. Blacklidge contest will move on to face Democratic nominee Jennifer Webb in the Nov. 6 general election.

Webb’s new finance report shows her maintaining a cash lead ahead of the general election race beginning in earnest. She tacked on $4,270 and spent just $200 for the week, bringing her overall fundraising total to $164,277 with just shy of $118,000 in the bank.

HD 69 covers part of southern Pinellas County including coastal communities from Redington Shores southward as well as a southwestern chunk of the mainland peninsula.

The district has a slim Republican advantage. The most recent bookclosing report from the Florida Division of Elections, released Aug. 10, shows registered Republicans make up 36 percent of the electorate compared to a 35 percent share for registered Democratic.

When Webb ran for the seat two years ago, she lost to Peters by 13 points on Election Day, though at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump only carried the seat by 3 points.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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