Ray Blacklidge backs out of campaign forum with Jennifer Webb

blacklidge, ray

Florida House District 69 Republican candidate Ray Blacklidge backed out of a campaign forum at Eckerd College organized by a bipartisan group of students at the private, liberal arts college.

Blacklidge is running against Democrat Jennifer Webb for the St. Petersburg district currently held by Republican Kathleen Peters. Peters is not seeking re-election; she’s running for Pinellas County Commission.

Blacklidge texted event organizers that “unforeseen circumstances” came up and he was no longer able to attend. The students are still hoping he will change his mind. Blacklidge did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

If Blacklidge does not attend, Webb will appear solo at the event in a less formal town hall format. She will discuss her campaign platform and take questions from students, event organizers said.

It’s at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Eckerd College Sheen Auditorium.

HD 69 includes part of St. Petersburg and the communities of Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, South Pasadena and Gulfport. 

The race between the two candidates started out cordial with both vowing to avoid negative campaigning. Neither candidate has directly attacked the other, but outside groups supporting Blacklidge in the race have aired negative ads about Webb.

The seat is a target for Democrats looking to regain a majority in the Florida Legislature. Peters, the incumbent, is a Republican. The latest polling shows Webb leading Blacklidge by double digits.

Republicans have a slim lead in voter registrations in the district, which voted plus-3 for Donald Trump in 2016. Webb ran against Peters two years ago, but lost the race to Peters by 13 percentage points.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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