Breaking down Jim Norman's fundraising: A good month, with a few question marks
Jim Norman got some attention for his impressive fundraising total for the first month of his campaign to return as a Hillsborough County commissioner, $83,475.
That's the biggest first month of any commission candidate and likely to give second thoughts to any potential primary challenger.
But it's not quite as impressive as it appears at first blush.
Norman had told many people he had $100,000 in pledges to start his race.
Not only did he fail to reach the high bar he set, but his total includes a lot of what fundraisers call "low-hanging fruit," the easy-to-get first contributions from friends, some of which may prove controversial. It includes:
• $6,000 in contributions linked to Shea Hughes, son of the late Ralph Hughes, a businessman and political ally of Norman's. Ralph Hughes' loan or gift of nearly $500,000 to Norman's wife for an Arkansas vacation home sparked investigations of Norman that led to his leaving politics in 2012. The contributions -- $1,000 each from Shea Hughes and five corporations he controls – could be used against Norman by his opponents.
• $4,000 from Sam Rashid, a long-time Norman backer, and three corporations Rashid controls.
• $4,000 in contributions linked to prominent, conservative Republican political consultant Mike Corcoran.
• $5,000 from Norman himself.
In addition, some previously staunch Norman supporters are missing from the report, including the local police and firefighter unions. Both gave Norman contributions more than a year before his 2006 race, for example.
That may raise the question of whether some former Norman supporters are backing away.
Police Benevolent Association spokesman Gary Bradford said this year is different from 2006 because it's an open seat, and the PBA is still interviewing candidates.
Said president Derrik Ryan of the Hillsborough County Fire Fighters Local No. 2294, "There are some issues we're attempting to deal with" in a planned meeting with Norman.