Brian Blair says its a Big Misunderstanding

June 23rd, 2009 by

TAMPA – After a night alone in lockdown, in front of a judge while wearing handcuffs and an orange jail jump suit, it was striking what a long, long way from Brian Blair’s role as a power-broker he has come.

The charges are that the former county commissioner choked and beat his 17 and 13-year-old sons. One of the boys told deputies he thought his father had been drinking when the fight broke out, early on Father’s Day morning.

Blair, as he was released from jail, denied he had a drinking problem, and without explaining himself, he repeatedly said he was glad his wife Toni was okay. She said nothing as her husband downplayed his arrest to reporters.

“It’s a misunderstanding that could have been prevented,” Blair said. “You know, I have over 7,000 hours mentoring children and the last thing I’d ever do is hurt a kid, and sometimes the hardest kids to mentor are your own.”

Friends say Blair did not take his defeat last fall at the polls well. He sued winner Kevin Beckner for libeling him during the campaign.

Today, Beckner called Blair’s troubles a tragedy.

“Right now the focus needs to be on the kids and the family, and we make sure that we reach out and the community supports them, like I say, it’s going to be a long and hard ordeal for them all to go through,” Beckner said.

“He enjoyed being in power,” said political consultant Wayne Garcia of Creative Loafing. Garcia and other political observers say that if the child abuse charges stick, Blair’s hopes to regain public office may be in serious doubt.

“The irony of having a family fight with your teenage sons on Father’s Day is something that is going to be very, very hard to explain to the voters,” Garcia said.

Yet Blair already seems to have an answer for that.

“I love my constituents and I hope to serve them again,” Blair said.

When one reporter asked if Blair felt like he has disappointed his constituents, the answer was “no.”

“If they were there, I think they’d understand the situation,” Blair said.

While details of the incident remain under investigation, even less is known about what is to happen to Blair’s relationship with his teenaged sons. Social workers say they can’t even tell us whether Blair is allowed to sleep in the same house, no less whether he’s able to see his kids and under what conditions.

It could be weeks before prosecutors decide whether to charge Blair or not.

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