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Proposed boundary changes affect Norman, Storms

TAMPA — About half of Temple Terrace and New Tampa voters who cast ballots last November didn't bother to weigh in on Jim Norman's state Senate bid.

It may have been their last chance.

Proposed voting boundaries released by legislators this month remove Temple Terrace and New Tampa from Norman's District 12. Those suburban areas would become part of the more rural District 10 seat now held by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico.

The new District 12 would include a chunk of central and southeast Pasco County. It also would pick up Westchase.

For Hillsborough voters, the change to District 12 is among the most significant impacts of the proposed redistricting maps. On the House side, the new maps merge the Lutz-area districts of two Republican incumbents, Shawn Harrison and James W. Grant.

Norman, R-Tampa, says he's "disappointed" with losing Temple Terrace and New Tampa, which he got to know during his 18 years on the Hillsborough County Commission.

"To lose an area like that you're so familiar with, it hurts," he said.

In theory, the boundary changes could help Norman's re-election.

Norman worked much of the year under the cloud of a federal investigation. Authorities were looking at a $500,000 loan Norman's wife received from one of his former political benefactors. The loan was used for a waterfront home in Arkansas.

Federal prosecutors announced last month that they found no evidence that Norman broke the law. But the negative publicity surrounding the case could linger longer in Hillsborough than in Pasco, where Norman is less known.

Norman dismissed the idea that Hillsborough voters would take the matter to heart come next election.

"They looked at everything I've done, and I'm just clean as a whistle," he said of federal authorities. "I knew that, or I couldn't have operated. I knew I didn't do anything wrong and I was validated."

Republican consultant Mark Proctor said he doesn't think the Arkansas home issue would hurt Norman now that he's been cleared. And the proposed boundaries would likely help him, he said.

Deborah Cox-Roush, former chairwoman of the Hillsborough GOP, said she thinks more Pasco voters equals a stronger re-election bid for Norman.

"I think Sen. Norman picking up parts of Pasco County is advantageous to him," Roush said. "He's always had great support in Pasco County."

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who serves on the redistricting committee, said that didn't factor into how the maps were drawn. His own district would lose Westchase and the airport area to Norman's district.

"I have no idea how Jim Norman did in his election in any part of his district. Nobody knows that kind of stuff," Lat­vala said. "Nobody said anything specifically about taking Temple Terrace from him. … He indicated an interest in continuing to have the southern part of Pasco County. He enjoys the people he represents out there."

Norman said he doesn't think losing Temple Terrace and New Tampa would help him. He said he's been lobbying members of the Senate redistricting committee to get them back.

"I've had some conversations about trying to save those areas, but I've been pushed back," he said.

Over on the House side, two Hillsborough representatives — Grant and Harrison — may have to decide if they want to duke it out in a Republican primary or if one of them will move into another district.

Harrison also has said he may jump into the congressional race against Democrat Kathy Castor if his New Tampa home ends up in that congressional district. Congressional maps proposed so far do not put him in that district, though one map includes his home in an empty, Republican-leaning district covering northeast Hillsborough.

Grant would lose nearly all of his current district — except for the older section of Carrollwood, where he grew up and still lives — under the new plan. He rents his home and says moving is a possibility, though it's too early to tell.

Legislators still have time to alter the maps again. Or a court could get involved.

"It'd be like planning a war game with a whole bunch of contingencies without knowing where the battle will be fought," Grant said.

Harrison agreed. "At this point, I guess it's just premature to speculate," he said.

Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374.

Proposed boundary changes affect Norman, Storms 12/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:33am]
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