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Second Republican files to challenge Adam Hattersley in HD 59

But the latest candidate might not live in the district.

A second Republican is challenging Adam Hattersley for his Brandon-area seat in the Florida House.

Michael Owen, a Tampa Bay area attorney, filed for House District 59 this week. But Owen doesn’t live in the district.

According to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser records, Owen owns a home in South Tampa where he claims a homestead exemption. Homestead exemptions are taken on Floridians’ primary residences.

Records show Owen purchased a townhome just outside of MacDill Air Force Base for $445,000 last April.

Records also show he purchased a home in Valrico in 2017 for $45,000, a property that is in House District 59 but that he does not claim homestead.

Under Florida law, candidates can run for State House seats in districts where they do not live as long as they move to the region if elected. Owens told Florida Politics residency won’t be an issue.

“I sure hope this becomes an issue of roots to Brandon,” Owen said. “You’re not going to find deeper roots in this community than with me.”

While Owen currently lives outside the district he would represent, he “was raised in the Brandon, Florida area,” he said. Owen founded the firm Owen & Dunivan and focuses on general civil and commercial litigation including real estate litigation, foreclosures, tenant and landlord disputes and homeowners association law, among other legal issues, according to his professional bio on his company’s website.

Owen’s bio says he “prides himself in defending the rights of consumers.”

Owen said he decided to run because he felt a calling to serve the community where he grew up.

Brandon businesswoman Melissa Haskins entered the race earlier this month.

Hattersley beat Republican Joe Wicker in the 2018 race for the East Hillsborough seat. It was one of only a handful of Tampa Bay Area districts to flip blue. Republican Congressman Ross Spano previously represented the district.

The District is considered a swing seat and Republicans are hoping to reclaim it next year. Hattersley beat Wicker last year by just three points. Hattersley was quick to get back to campaigning, launching his re-election campaign just one month after being elected.

That’s not uncommon, though. Florida Representatives are elected every two years, which means they’re almost always preparing for the next campaign.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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