Tallahassee, FL - A Tallahassee judge found Jim Norman failed to disclose his ownership of a half million dollar house in Arkansas, and kicked him off the ballot. Norman appealed to the first District Court of appeal, where his lawyer faced tough questions from Appellate judge Robert Benton. “Can a perjury prosecution be maintained for intentionally false financial disclosure documents? Asked Benton. Lawyer Barry Richard replied “I don’t know the answer to that your honor.”
Lawyers for Kevin Ambler, who lost to Norman by just under 4 thousand votes were also peppered with questions over why Ambler waited until after the election to go to court. Attorney Gary Early tried to explain. “He did not know there was not substantial compliance until four days prior”, said Early before being cut off by Judge Benton. “He thought this was from the wife independently” asked Benton, to which early replied “ He didn’t know”.
The Republican party argued it had already named a candidate to fill the Norman vacancy. Whatever the court does, it will be plowing new ground because there has never been a case like this one before.
Norman did not attend. Afterwards, lawyer Barry Richard believed he made a case to put the candidate back on the ballot. “If a person wants to challenge the eligibility of a candidate, If they know the facts that are relevant, they must file the challenge before the election” Richard explained.
But Ambler Attorney Gary early was equally confident. “On June 18, 2010, ,Mr Ambler was the only qualified nominee for the Republican party for Senate District twelve”, says Early.
Come election day, any one of three potential candidates could be the next Republican State Senator from Hillsborough County. The court has three options. It can reinstate Norman to the ballot; It can name Kevin Ambler the nominee; or it can uphold the circuit court and leave the nomination process to the Republican party, which would mean Rob Wallace would be the GOP candidate. In any of the choices, the only name voters will see on the ballot is Jim Norman’s.