Hillsborough and Pasco Republicans have nominated a replacement for embattled Florida Senate District 12 hopeful Jim Norman, should his court appeal to stay on the ballot fail.
Republicans this weekend nominated former Florida House Rep. Rob Wallace to replace Norman. A Leon County circuit judge tossed Norman off the ballot after ruling he failed to disclose a $500,000 gift from Tampa businessman Ralph Hughes, which was later used by his wife to buy an Arkansas home.
The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by Norman’s primary opponent Florida Rep. Kevin Ambler, whom Norman beat for the Republican nomination. Norman has since appealed the ruling and a decision from the First District Court of Appeal is expected this week as to whether Norman will remain on the ballot.
Should the appeals court find with the lower court, all votes cast for Norman will go to Wallace. Norman’s name will remain on the ballot because they have already been completed, but voters will receive a notice that a vote for Norman is a vote for Wallace.
A six-member committee unanimously selected Wallace for his experience and his fiscal conservative outlook, says Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Deborah Cox-Roush.
Both Ambler and Norman were also interviewed, but the committee passed on them because Ambler lost in the election and Norman had been taken off the ballot by the courts, Cox-Roush says.
“We are thrilled with our selection,” she says.
Either Norman or Wallace is almost assured the seat come election day as there is no Democratic opponent, and two write-in candidates have not mounted campaigns.
Wallace formerly held the District 47 House seat currently occupied by Ambler before leaving due to term limits. He then went on to start his own environmental consulting business in Tampa.