Blair settles lawsuit against restaurant

08/28/07 Mitch E. Perry
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The St. Petersburg Times reported today that Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair has settled his negligence lawsuit against Carabba’s restaurant.

Blair, a former professional wrestler, claimed his career ended in June 2001 when he tripped over a tray of dirty dishes and fell, injuring his chin, right knee, right shoulder and his head.

The Times reports that attorneys for Carabba’s were ready to offer as evidence a videotape of Blair’s wrestling match in Japan and 2 other surveillance tapes of Blair made months after the accident, as well as medical records showing Blair was legally impaired at the time of the fall.

Blair has already filed papers to seek re-election next year, but some political analysts say he could be vulnerable, due in part to his high profile role in trying to eliminate the wetlands division of the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission.

After substantial public opposition, the EPC voted not to cut the program, but to instead adopt a ‘hybrid’ plan proposed by EPC Director Rick Garrity.

Local Democrats, who have been almost an afterthought on the County Commission in recent years, are targeting Blair next year.

One declared Democrat trying to take Blair’s seat is Kevin Beckner, a certified financial planner who works in Ybor City.

Political Consultant Mitch Kates is running Beckner’s campaign. Kates was successful last year in helping Charlie Justice gain a seat in the state Senate in a bitterly contested race; he also helped Mary Mulhern pull off an upset, defeating Sean Harrison for a Tampa City Council seat.

Kates is confident Kevin Beckner has what it takes to win in Hillsborough County.

Kates also says that GOP incumbents will be vulnerable across the board in 2008.

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