Jack Latvala says Jim Norman's withdrawal from Senate race expected, but not forced
We still haven't heard from state Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, who withdrew from his Senate re-election bid this morning. But one legislative leader said he wasn't surprised by the news because ethical challenges have dogged the senator and opponents were lining up to challenge him.
Sen. Jack Latvala said he talked to Norman and knew his colleague would be withdrawing. Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, said he feels the decision is best for Norman.
“I think he just needs to start thinking about his future and providing for his family. Anything he does as long as he’s in public life, you know you guys are just going to be on him," Latvala said to the Times/Herald.
"And every newspaper story and ever story about him is going to start with him: 'Norman, comma, who did this, that and the other.' I just think he came to the end of the line with that and came to the realization that it would be better for him to get into private life and get out of public life,” Latvala said.
Latvala wouldn't say whether he suggested to Norman that he abandon his re-election bid and declined to immediately endorse one of the other Republicans who remain in the race, such as state Rep. John Legg. Norman wouldn't have withdrawn if he didn't think it was best for him, Latvala said.
"He wasn't going to be bullied, and he wasn't bullied," he said. "He made this decision himself."
Latvala also gave Norman high marks for his term in office.
"Regardless of the issues that he had before he became a Florida senator, he was a good Florida senator," Latvala said. "And I think he fought for the people he represented and he worked hard."
Read more about Norman's decision to bow out of the race here.