After initially planning to run in 2018 to try to replace House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, Republican Christopher Licata this week switched races to run for an open Pinellas County House seat.
Licata filed paperwork with the state Division of Elections to run in House District 69, which will be open next year because Rep. Kathleen Peters has decided to seek a seat on the Pinellas County Commission. In a letter to the Division of Elections, Licata said he had been living temporarily in Cruz’s House District 62 but grew up in House District 69.
The change sends a ripple through the races in both districts. It left only four Democrats — Michael Alvarez, Carlos Frontela, John Rodriguez and Jose Vazquez Figueroa — running to replace Cruz in her Hillsborough County district.
It also led to a GOP primary opponent for Madeira Beach Republican Raymond Blacklidge, who had been the only candidate running to replace Peters in District 69.