The county commissioner failed to meet financial disclosure requirements.
Republican state Senate nominee Jim Norman, a Hillsborough County commissioner, was dropped from the ballot by a Leon County circuit judge for not meeting financial disclosure requirements to qualify as a candidate. Norman is expected to appeal the decision.
The situation muddies up early voting, which begins Oct. 18.
Judge Jackie Fulford removed Norman as the Republican nominee for the District 12 seat, which represents north Hillsborough plus central and northeast Pasco County, following a 14-hour hearing Oct. 12. Judge Fulford cited a $500,000 gift from now deceased businessman Ralph Hughes used to purchase a home in Arkansas as the basis for the decision. Norman argued that the sum was an investment and a business transaction between his wife and Hughes.
Norman's defeated primary opponent, Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, filed a motion with the court to amend the final order to declare Ambler the Republican nominee. Norman is appealing Judge Fulford's decision, so it's unclear who the party's nominee is and if early votes or mail-in ballots voting for Norman will count for Ambler.
The Hillsborough County Republican Party Executive Committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 19, when it might discuss the issue.
Ambler, meanwhile, argues in his motion that it's not vacant because he is “the only other qualified candidate in the Republican primary election” and thus he should be “deemed to be the nominee of the Republican Party.”
The saga is clearly befuddling, although state and local election officials say they need to wait out the court's decision before they can add some clarity.