“Are you Schocked yet? Because we’re just getting started,” declared Tim Schock at his victory party Tuesday night in Tampa, after defeating Jim Norman 62-38 percent in their race for the Republican nomination for the Hillsborough County District 6 seat.
It was Norman’s first ever loss of his political life, and Schock’s first victory in his second bid for public office.
Although there was little public polling to indicate a potential blowout was possible, there were two important straw polls that gave an indication where this race was going. One was at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting in May, where Schock received 66 votes to Norman’s 13. And earlier this month, at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a bastion of the GOP establishment, Schock smoked out Norman, 124-58.
Schock also came on strong in the last few weeks of the campaign with a television ad and mailers referencing Norman’s ethics problems which surfaced in 2010. The mailer ready, ““Career Politician Jim Norman, He’s Got A LOT OF BAGGAGE,” and featured quotes from local publications referencing the issue with the Arkansas vacation home that led to Norman being hit with an ethics violation in 2012.
“We ran a really disciplined, diligent campaign. Very strategic, and everything went according to plan,” Schock said late Tuesday night. “And the plan was that we would be coming on so strong at the end that we would have a real surge of momentum of support going into early voting, and we would carry that into Election Day.”
That strategic plan included knocking on 20,000 doors leading up to the primary, a goal his campaign hit over the past week.
Schock will now go on to face Democrat Pat Kemp in the countywide District 6 general election for County Commission. Kemp narrowly lost a similar run for countywide office to Republican Al Higginbotham in the District 7 race in 2014.
Although Schock received more votes than Kemp did on Tuesday night, (38,151 for Schock vs. 29,819 for Kemp), the fact is that there were more Democratic votes overall cast in the District 6 race (66,798) spread out over four different candidates than there were in the GOP contest (61,894).
“We’ll have a great opportunity here to have some really important discussions and debates on some of the core issues that our community is facing,” Schock said of the upcoming campaign against Kemp.
Meanwhile, it looks like the end of the road for Norman in terms of electoral politics. Norman served on the County Commission from 1992-2010. He then went on to win his only bid for state Senate in 2010, but opted not to run for reelection in 2012. His ethical problems were an issue then, but Norman says that the state GOP had redrawn his district in a fashion that would have had him in a tough GOP primary race.
Earlier this month, Norman told this reporter that he hardly ever heard from the voters about his ethical problems, and said it was really only an obsession with the media. That can’t still be his belief after his through defeat on Tuesday night.