ST. PETE BEACH — The tussle between two Republicans vying for a chance to capture the House District 69 seat has taken an unpleasant turn.
Raymond Blacklidge filed a report with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday accusing his rival, Jeremy Bailie, of stealing his campaign fliers from the doors of dozens of St. Pete Beach homes.
And, Blacklidge said, his rival then replaced them with Bailie's own campaign materials.
"It's just a shame that my opponent is doing things that are childish and immature," said Blacklidge, 58.
The insurance executive said he's disappointed in the 27-year-old Ballie: "I truly think that Jeremy is an intelligent guy that would make a good politician someday. He needs to mature a little bit before he becomes a state representative."
Bailie, an attorney, spoke briefly to the Tampa Bay Times about the matter:
"First of all, I want to apologize to my opponent and to everyone else,'' he said. "I called Ray to apologize.
"We were out knocking doors for hours. It's been a long campaign and I made a mistake. I'm sorry and I apologize to Ray and I promise it won't happen again."
The feud quickly landed on social media. Lisa Buchianico Blacklidge posted a video to her Facebook page showing her husband's opponent removing the campaign literature from one home, which was tucked inside the door handle.
"Here's your competition for State Representative in District 69 STEALING RAY'S DOOR FLYERS & REPLACING IT WITH HIS!!!" she wrote.
"The camera doesn't lie folks! You'll see him take Ray's flyer off stick it in his pocket!
"Is this who you want representing our district?! A corrupt politician?! I would be so embarrassed if I would've endorsed him for office! Shame on you Jeremy! Your true colors finally caught up to you! Maybe this is the only way he can get people to vote for him."
Raymond Blacklidge said the video was taken about 6 p.m. Monday.
"My campaign workers watched him do that multiple times," he said. "They only got that one."
Blacklidge campaign volunteer Dylan Kirkhart said he took the video in the Three Palms Point neighborhood, where Bailie had also been canvassing.
"A few of our volunteers noticed that wherever he walked, our stuff was disappearing," Kirkhart said. "A couple of us decided to turn around and see what was going on. I was shocked to find that he was the one personally removing our literature."
The Sheriff's Office did not comment on this case. Whoever wins the Aug. 28 GOP primary will face Democrat Jennifer Webb in the Nov. 6 general election.
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at email@example.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes