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Ray Blacklidge closes on hand cash gap with Jennifer Webb

The race to replace outgoing state Rep. Kathleen Peters in House District 69 has become one of the closest funding races this election cycle among Florida state races.

Republican Ray Blacklidge is leading his Democratic opponent, Jennifer Webb, by a comparatively small margin compared to other political contests that put Democratic challengers at a funding disadvantage.

Blacklidge has raised $236,000 to date while Webb is trailing just behind with $189,000 in total contributions, according to the most recent campaign finance filings through September 14.

Still, Blacklidge doubled down his fundraising efforts during the first two weeks of September, bringing in $57,000. During the same period, Webb raised just $7,500. Until the end of August, Webb had been leading Blacklidge in fundraising.

Blacklidge, a Madeira Beach attorney, depleted his campaign war chest during a competitive primary against St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie in which he spent nearly $71,000. Most of that spending went to Tallahassee-based Front Line Strategies for political consulting.

Blacklidge defeated Bailie 58 to 42 percent.

Webb did not face a challenger in the Democratic primary.

That shows in the two candidates’ cash on hand. Blacklidge has just $56,000 remaining in the bank while Webb has just over $80,000.

The HD 69 seat is open because Peters decided not to seek re-election. Instead, she’s running for Pinellas County Commission to replace the late John Morroni who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Peters is considered the front-runner in that race.

Contributions rolled into Blacklidge’s campaign from conservative political committees including the political action committee that supported Jack Latvala who resigned from office earlier this year amid sexual misconduct allegations and suspended his gubernatorial bid.

Webb’s top donations this period came from the plumbers and pipefitters union and Representative Democracy, which each contributed $1,000.

Blacklidge did not have any meaningful expenditures. Webb cut two checks totally about $13,000 to the St. Pete-based political consulting firm Parsons Wilson.

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 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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