Jim Norman withdraws from State Senate race

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As first reported here*, Senator Jim Norman is abandon his re-election campaign, as early as today has withdrawn from his State Senate race. (Read Norman’s withdrawal letter at the bottom of the post.)

According a senior legislator close to the developments, Norman reached the decision on Friday after he concluded he could not win re-election. All that was left, says this legislator, was finding Norman a “soft landing.”

On Monday, Norman’s chief opponent, Rep. John Legg, was endorsed by Rep. Will Weatherford.  The Speaker Designate’s backing follows a string of high-profile endorsements for Legg as the State Senate’s leadership begins to coalesce around him as its preferred candidate.

Here are the latest developments:

1:38 p.m. – John Legg today released the following statement regarding Norman’s withdrawing from the race.

“Jim Norman has done a lot for the residents of our area, both as a County Commissioner and State Senator, and I wish him well.

“However, we still have a campaign to run with a Primary in August and a General in November.  And, we are going to continue to work hard and take our message to the voters of District 17.

“I am looking forward to a spirited debate about the best way to improve our economy and bring jobs back to our community.”

12:00 p.m. – Lee Logan of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Sen. Mike Fasano, who said the developments bode well for his protege, state Rep. John Legg. “I’m pleased for John Legg. Obviously he still has a campaign, both a primary and a general election. John Legg is definitely the favorite to be the next senator.”

Now that ally Normany is out of the race, Fasano inticated that Sen. Jack Latvala, a candidate for future Senate presidency, would support Legg.

10:23 a.m. – If Norman drops out, the ripple effects could be felt in several other State Senate races throughout Florida.

Although he will not enjoy seeing his friend drop-out, Jack Latvala, via his Leadership Funds, may have as much as $200,000 to $300,000 freed-up because he no longer has to spend as much money helping Legg (first vs. Wilton Simpson and now here), nor will Latvala have to spend any money assisting Norman.

Those critical dollars could go a long way helping Latvala’s other allies, such as Ellyn Bogdanoff and Jim Frishe.

9:46 a.m. – One of Norman’s opponents, John Korsak, is already throwing dirt on Norman’s political grave, releasing a statement this morning about how these “development affects our campaign.” Korsak says they don’t.

Korsak is especially displeased that “(o)ver the past several days it has become clear that Tallahassee, acting against tradition, has inserted its power into a primary election to craft its desired outcome.”  

“Tallahassee will not dictate our representation; and I will see to it that we have an election in District 17, not a coronation,” said Korsak.

6:54 a.m. – The Tampa Tribune’s Tom Jackson and Mike Salerno, moving at the Tribune’s usual glacial pace, have worked up an item about a “report” it does not identify that Norman may drop out.

Jackson and Salerno also report that two “prominent local party members” have been told by Norman that he intends to drop out.

11:34 p.m. – The Tampa Bay Times’ Bill Varian blogs “Politicos around the Tampa Bay region were abuzz” that Norman will drop out.

By the way, don’t you love the condescending use by a traditional mediaist of the words “abuzz” and “scuttlebutt” when they really, really want to report something, but all they have to go on is rumor AND what they’ve read on blogs, such as this one.

*Simultaneously with Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.