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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jim Norman faces another primary challenger in Senate reelection bid



Rob Wallace, a former state representative, has announced his intention to challenge state Sen. Jim Norman this year.

Republican party officials chose Wallace to replace Norman in the 2010 election when a judge threw him off the ballot for failing to disclose a a lakefront Arkansas home his wife bought four years earlier using a $500,000 gift from one of her husband's regular campaign backers. Norman, R-Tampa, was serving as a Hillsborough County commissioner when the gift was given. The ruling was quickly overturned on appeal, putting Norman back on the ballot and ending Wallace’s candidacy after just 61 minutes.

Norman pleaded guilty last week to state ethics charges over his failure to disclose the home and gift from late businessman Ralph Hughes, who regularly appeared before the County Commission, and is waiting to find out how or if his fellow senators will punish him. The gift was also the subject of a federal criminal investigation that has since been dropped.

Now Wallace, 59, wants a legitimate shot to oust Norman, who also faces Republican activist and homeland security consultant John Korsak for the District 15 seat.

“Jim Norman has been tied up with grand jury hearings,” Wallace said. “He’s been busy with the (Florida) Commission on Ethics investigation. I think he needs to spend more time at the lake.”

Wallace, who lives in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Tampa, served eight years in the Florida House ending in 2002 before term limits ended his run. He is a civil environmental engineer and, as a politician, considered to have solid conservative credentials.

-- By Justin George, Times Staff Writer 

[Last modified: Monday, February 27, 2012 7:10pm]


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