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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Straw poll: Schock beats Norman, Smith beats Toledo

The results of a straw poll for local party activists suggest Jim Norman could have a problem restarting his career in local politics.

Norman lost badly to Tim Schock, and Rebecca Smith notched a lopsided win over Jackie Toledo, in the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s straw vote Tuesday night.

Schock defeated Norman, a former state senator and county commissioner, 66 to 13 in the Republican primary for the District 6 commissioner’s race.

Smith beat Toledo 72 to 25 in the District 60 state House race to replace Rep. Dana Young.

In the primary to choose a Republican opponent for U. S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Eddie Adams beat Christine Quinn 44 to 26.

The local party executive committee held the straw poll after a forum for the candidates in the three local contested primaries.

In 2012, Norman, formerly a powerful force in East Hillsborough politics, withdrew from his campaign for re-election to the state Senate. He admitted he violated ethics regulations by not disclosing a loan of more than $400,000 from a political supporter to his wife, which she used to buy a vacation home in Arkansas.

He had previously served as a county commissioner from 1992 to 2010.

Norman’s past didn’t come up explicitly in candidate comments or audience questions at the forum, but Schock took what sounded like thinly veiled shots at Norman without naming him.

Schock criticized “cronyism and backroom deals” and “career politicians” and saying, “We need new people and fresh ideas.”

Smith, founder of a successful construction company and a first-time candidate for office, was recruited by party leaders for the race to replace Young, but faces a spirited challenge from Toledo, who narrowly lost a Tampa City Council race last year.

Asked about President Barack Obama’s directive to schools on allowing transgender students access to the restrooms of their choice, Norman told the GOP gathering that Obama “can go to hell.”

All the candidates at the forum opposed the policy in response to an audience question, but Norman’s statement was the most aggressive

“You’re going to have to take me to jail because I would stand up against that. I think it’s absolutely wrong.” He recounted that he opposed a county ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays, and added, “If my daughter, my friend, young daughter, went into a restroom and someone with a beard tried to follow her in, they’d have to run. So Obama can go to hell on that.”

His comment was greeted with enthusiastic applause from the gathering of local GOP activists.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 11:58am]

    

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