Raymond Blacklidge defeated a novice in the Republican primary for the House District 69 seat.
Blacklidge, a 58-year-old insurance executive from Madeira Beach, took 58 percent of the vote over Jeremy Bailie, 27. Bailie lost despite garnering the support of noted Republicans such as Mel and Betty Sembler and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Now Blacklidge will face Democrat Jennifer Webb, 38, in the Nov. 6 general election for the seat being vacated by Republican Kathleen Peters, who is running for the Pinellas County Commission.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida House candidate caught on video stealing rival's fliers
Blacklidge, speaking from his election night watch party in Treasure Island, said he's very excited.
"This election was about who is going to look out for the priorities of Pinellas County residents," he said. "I will always put Pinellas first. I believe that our local government should be able to decide where short-term rentals should be allowed.
"I want to go to Tallahassee because I want to represent the many in the community who don't have a voice. The economy is getting better but we need to do more to keep it on track. We need to help people who are dealing with high property taxes, high health-care costs and insurance rates."
Bailie could not be reached for comment. He ran into trouble when he was caught on video removing Blacklidge's fliers from a St. Pete Beach home. He later apologized.
Blacklidge, once in the running for Florida's insurance commissioner, touted his "extensive experience and knowledge" and life experience, saying it gives him "a better advantage to represent the people of Florida in Tallahassee."
Blacklidge raised $177,082 for his campaign, contributing thousands of dollars of his own money. Bailie raised $82,015.45.
Webb, who faced no opposition in the primary, raised $176,090 and has so far spent $66,989 in her quest to swing the seat to the Democrats.
A former Illinois school board member, alderman, and Republican precinct committeeman, Blacklidge opposes off-shore drilling and Medicaid expansion and believes texting while driving should be a primary offense.
He also supports legalized sports betting in Florida, but with certain restrictions.
Bailie, a lawyer, had never run for office.
While he and Blacklidge held similar views on a number of issues, Bailie did not believe that texting while driving should be a primary offense, citing Fourth Amendment concerns and issues "with bicycle citations that are disproportionately
issued to minorities."
Bailie described himself as a "consistent conservative" who would "watch over taxpayers' dollars and promised "fresh ideas and new perspectives."
Webb lives in Gulfport and tried to capture the seat in 2016, when she ran against Peters. Webb is running on issues including education, infrastructure investment, protection of the state's drinking water and waterways and access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.
She is the founding partner of a company that specializes in business development and community engagement.
"I'd like to congratulate Ray Blacklidge," she said in an email. "He and I have some fundamental differences in tenor and policy. I look forward to a robust and vigorous campaign.
"I trust that we will keep our focus on issues that matter most to our neighbors, families, and local business owners in House District 69."
The district includes Gulfport, Madeira Beach, Pinellas Park, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island and parts of St. Petersburg. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $29,697 a year.
For statewide election coverage check out The Buzz.
For local election coverage check out the Bay Buzz.
For school board election coverage check out The Gradebook.