ST. PETERSBURG — City Council candidate Robert Blackmon has denied news reports that he is dating Sydney Simpson, the daughter of O.J. Simpson.
The New York Post reported early Monday morning that Blackmon, 28, was dating Sydney Simpson, 31. But the only person quoted in the story was Blackmon himself.
The Post wrote that Blackmon would "let the voters decide if his gal pal's connection" to her father — the former NFL star and celebrity whose 1994 murder trial and acquittal is still the subject of intense media fascination — could affect the District 6 council rate.
"If that's the will of the people, that's the will of the people," Blackmon told the Post. "I hope to keep (the campaign) to the issues." He also said Sydney Simpson was a "very private person" who has been "selflessly supporting me and not worried about herself."
When a Tampa Bay Times reporter called Blackmon, he declined to discuss the Post story.
"No comment," Blackmon said. "She's a good friend of mine, but we're not dating."
A campaign advisor, Barry S. Edwards, said the Post article doesn't actually quote Blackmon saying he was dating Sydney Simpson.
When asked to explain why he spoke to the New York City tabloid, Blackmon told the Times this:
"They led me to think that it was a story about the issues," he said. "I'm running for city council and anything else is a distraction from the real issues, which are the environment, the economy, the sewer system and our schools."
Blackmon is one of eight City Council candidates vying for the seat being vacated by City Council member Karl Nurse, who is prevented from running again because of term limits. The Post said Blackmon's connection to the Simpson family brought "Hollywood-style drama" to the city council primary. However, save for some shouting matches, the race has been mostly sedate.
He lists assets worth nearly $1.2 million on his campaign disclosure forms. Blackmon also confirmed that he sold a multi-unit property he bought and renovated across from Melrose Elementary School to Sydney's brother, Justin Simpson.
Sydney and Justin Simpson are the children of Nicole Brown Simpson. Their father was acquitted in 1995 of the murders of Brown, his ex-wife, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
O.J. Simpson, 70, was granted parole on July 20 after spending eight years in a Nevada prison for a botched attempt to steal sports memorabilia that he claimed were once stolen from him. He was convicted in 2008 and faced up to 33 years in prison for that hotel room robbery.
Blackmon told the Post he was hesitant to talk about the Simpson family, whom he called friends.
"I probably shouldn't be speaking about the Simpsons without their permission," he said. "The entire Simpson family are great people. They've been great friends to me."
The candidate also announced Monday that he has been endorsed in his race by former Mayor Bill Foster, who served from 2010-14.