The political career of one-time rising Republican star Jim Norman likely ended Tuesday in a resounding primary defeat for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.
Norman was soundly defeated by Tim Schock for the right to face a Democratic challenger in November.
“I think the race went according to plan,” Schock said Tuesday evening. “We ran a disciplined, diligent campaign and stayed focused on our message. I think the No. 1 issue with voters was trust and integrity, and that applies to everyone. If you don’t have that, you can’t provide service to the community.”
Norman said in a statement: “It has been an honor to serve the people of Hillsborough County. My heart goes out to the men and woman (sic) serving in our military and our police and firefighters. God bless America.”
Schock hammered Norman on his past ethical issues, including a recent mailer showing suitcases and the caption “Career Politician Jim Norman, He’s Got A LOT OF BAGGAGE.”
That, of course, referred to many questions that arose during Norman’s time on the commission and in the state Senate. They included a trip to Las Vegas where Norman was spotted gambling with a lobbyist who used to regularly appear before the commission, and a controversial $435,000 housing deal in Arkansas between Norman’s wife and powerful political activist Ralph Hughes – a major Norman supporter.
Norman claimed initially claimed he didn’t know about the arrangement. A judge called that “patently absurd” and Norman later admitted to an ethics violation. It torpedoed what looked like a promising career in the Legislature. The scandal forced him to withdraw from the 2012 re-election race just a few days after he qualified to run.
Norman has consistently denied any wrongdoing in those transactions, but voters didn’t buy it. He was soundly defeated in a straw ballot in May at a Republican Party gathering in Hillsborough, and Schock also won the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times.