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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Whoops! Brian Blair mailer calls opponent James Grant a lobbyist



The campaign for Brian Blair, Republican candidate for the District 47 state House seat, has produced a mailer that calls primary opponent James Grant a registered lobbyist for general contractor Kustom US. Trouble is, Grant the Candidate is not Grant the Lobbyist. That's a different James Grant altogether.

The goal of the piece -- which includes the phrase "Make an informed decision" -- seems to be to show Blair as having business and political experience while two of his primary opponents -- Grant and Irene Guy -- are lobbyists with questionable morals. For example, the piece says Grant has the support of a lobbyist for -- horrors -- the Florida Association for Nude Recreation. It's true the organization's lobbyist, Bob Levy, donated to Grant's campaign. But Levy has dozens of clients, including United Cerebral Palsy, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and many health care organizations and Florida governments. As for Guy, Blair highlights her work as a lobbyist for Verizon, noting that she worked for the company when Florida saw the biggest-ever phone rate increase.

And speaking of Guy as a lobbyist, early in her campaign, she tried to downplay that aspect of her work, preferring just to be known as a retired Verizon executive. Now, though, she is embracing that professional past. "Lobbyists are critical to the process. I'm proud to have done this," she said last week at a meeting of the downtown Tampa Republican club. "It taught me how to be a good legislator because I had to work with them every day."

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:41pm]


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