Democrats find a candidate to run against Jim Norman this year

Share on Nextdoor

?Wes Johnson is exactly the kind of candidate voters have been hoping for,? says Hillsborough Democratic Party Chair, Chris Mitchell. ?He?s not a politician ? he?s a successful businessman, scientist, husband, and father who we can be proud to represent us in Tallahassee. District 17 is a high priority race for us this November. And we?re all in to win with Wes!?

According to the press release, Johnson received his undergraduate degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida and returned after 24 years in the electric utility industry to earn a PhD in bio-medical engineering. He also served as a research professor at the University of South Florida from 2003?2007 and adjunct professor from 2005?2010. He owned and operated WMJohnson, PhD, LLC from 2007-2012, a small business focused on bio-mechanical consulting and testing.

Former state representative Rob Wallace announced In February he will challenge Norman for the Republican nomination for Senate this August in the primary. Homeland security consultant John Korsak previously announced he would challenge Norman as well.

In the summer of 2010, ABC 28 was the first media outlet to report that Norman had failed to list a lakefront Arkansas home that his wife had bought in 2006 using a $500,000 "gift" from Ralph Hughes, a GOP Hillsborough County power broker who passed away in 2008. That issue has been an albatross around Norman's neck ever since, even though he has never suffered at the polls because of it (the Democrats failed to field a candidate against him in November of 2010).

In February he admitted his guilt after a state ethics panel found probable cause to show Norman should have disclosed the investment. The commission dismissed three other complaints that alleged that the gift created a conflict of interest.

The Hillsborough Democratic party has had problems in recent years fielding candidates to run in local races. Never before was that problem more evident than in 2010, when Jim Norman began having his ethics issues yet there was no Democrat to run against him in the general election after he defeated Kevin Ambler in his District 12 primary.

That's about to change. Norman is facing a couple of Republican challengers this summer, and whoever comes out of that race will have a real live Democrat to face in November. He's Dr. Wes Johnson, a retired small business owner and former professor who announced his candidacy Monday morning for the new District 17 State Senate seat that comprises parts of Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

“My life has been shaped by opportunities,” Johnson says in a press release issued today. “And for me, the most significant opportunities came through education. From training at the technician level on nuclear submarines in the Navy, to earning my PhD in Bio-Medical Engineering, education has been the key to my success, and I know it is also the key to unlocking a better future for all Floridians.”

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.