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Blackmon announces endorsements for St. Petersburg mayor

The race is breaking down along party lines.
Mayoral candidate Robert Blackmon, center, held a primary election-night watch party at the Urban Stillhouse.
Mayoral candidate Robert Blackmon, center, held a primary election-night watch party at the Urban Stillhouse. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Sep. 16

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Robert Blackmon responded this week to news about endorsements of his opponent, Ken Welch, with a new list of backers of his own ― headed by former Mayor Rick Baker and several Pinellas legislators including House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Although it’s nonpartisan, the race is breaking down along party lines. Prominent Democrats including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor backed Welch, and all Blackmon’s announced endorsers are his fellow Republicans.

Besides Sprowls, they include state Reps. Nick DiCeglie and Jackie Toledo and former state Rep. Jim Frische.

Related: How Robert Blackmon can win the St. Petersburg mayor’s race

Blackmon said an alliance with the GOP majority in the Legislature could benefit the city.

“A huge part of the mayor’s role is having the support of partners in Tallahassee who will support our objectives and help fund our public safety and infrastructure needs,” he said.

Asked about the partisanship in the race, Blackmon responded, “I’m the only candidate in this race who has never run as a Republican,” noting that he has held only nonpartisan offices while Welch ran as a Republican for the school board in 1998.

Blackmon held a general election campaign kickoff Wednesday at the Ringside Café, with a crowd he said was about 125 including Baker, Kathleen Ford, Bob Ulrich, Tyler Payne and Frank Peterman.