Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Legg switches Senate districts, will challenge Jim Norman

Sen. Jim Norman of Tampa got another challenger Wednesday as state Rep. John Legg announced he is switching Senate districts.

The move averts a showdown between two well-funded Pasco County candidates, but sets up a potentially bigger race against an incumbent some see as vulnerable.

For months, Legg was running in the west Pasco seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. But he said he plans to switch to an adjacent seat so he doesn't uproot his family. He and his wife, Suzanne, have been splitting time between her home in Trinity and another home Legg owns in Port Richey.

"We sat down, we talked and we said, 'What do we want to do for our family?'" he said. "Bottom line is, that's where we want to live and raise our kids."

The Port Richey home is in Legg's old district, while his wife's home is in the new one.

Norman currently represents about two-thirds of the redrawn District 17, which includes a swath of south Pasco and the Carrollwood and Westchase areas in Hillsborough County.

Norman could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Legg will be vying for an entirely new collection of voters, as his new Senate district does not overlap with the state House seat he has represented for eight years.

But staying in District 18 would have meant a potentially heated battle with east Pasco egg farmer Wilton Simpson, who raised $220,000 through the first three months of the year and has released a television commercial and several mailers.

Through the first quarter of the year, Legg has raised $146,000 and Norman has raised $177,000. The Republican primary also includes former Rep. Rob Wallace of Tampa and John Korsak, a homeland security consultant from Lutz. Wesley Martin Johnson, a Democrat, is also running.

About 55 percent of the district's voters live in Hillsborough, with the remainder in south Pasco. The seat is also reliably Republican: 52 percent of voters went for Rick Scott in the 2010 governor's race, compared with 44 percent for Alex Sink.

Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, declined to address the specific match-up between Legg and Norman. But he said, "To have two senators who reside in Pasco County would be great for Pasco."

Fasano added: "I'm not aware of a time when Pasco had two sitting senators. Not only two sitting senators, but the next speaker of the House and then a speaker-to-be after Will Weatherford. Pasco will have great leaders for many years to come."

The switch could nullify a potential attack against Legg. He's faced questions for years that he doesn't actually live in the Port Richey home on his voter registration and financial disclosure forms and instead lives in his wife's home in Trinity.

Legg began phoning Senate leaders Tuesday to let them know of his decision. Now the question is whether the Republican Party will remain true to its tradition of supporting incumbents in all cases — in this case, Norman.

Though he's a tough campaigner with 18 years of experience on the Hillsborough County Commission, Norman could be seriously wounded, political observers say.

In February, Norman signed an admission of guilt in an ethics case for not disclosing a $500,000 gift to his wife from a local businessman. His attorney said he wanted to move on from the matter.

The case attracted the attention of federal authorities, who ultimately did not file charges.

Even if Norman wins, one of the first acts of the Don Gaetz-led Senate next fall would be to decide what punishment to give him for his ethical lapses.

Said Legg: "Those are his issues that he has to resolve for himself and the voters have to decide."

Legg is an ally of Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is angling to be Senate president in the 2016-2018 term. Norman is also considered a Latvala supporter.

Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet and Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report. Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com.

John Legg switches Senate districts, will challenge Jim Norman 05/23/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]