Joe Harding picks up PBA endorsement, maintains cash lead in HD 22
Joe Harding's abrupt exit means the House is scrambling to fill his committee assignments.

Harding has $118K on hand weeks out from the primary.

Joe Harding added an endorsement from the Florida Police Benevolent Association as he built his fundraising lead in the Republican primary for House District 22.

“At a time when law enforcement officers are looking for champions, Joe Harding is a leader we know we can count on,” said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida PBA. “Joe Harding is a hardworking small business owner, a community leader, he has a strong grasp on our issues, and we know we can count on him.”

The PBA lines up alongside Gilchrist Sheriff Bobby Schultz, Levy Sheriff Bobby McCallum and other law enforcement and first responders backing Harding over his primary opponent, Russ Randall.

“I’m proud to back the blue, and I’m honored that they back our campaign,” Harding said. “I was raised to respect law enforcement officers, and I believe they serve a vital function of government. Calls to defund them are extremely disappointing, especially in light of the commitment they make to keep us safe.”

The PBA endorsement dropped at the same time candidates submitted finance reports for the June 27 — July 10 reporting period.

Harding showed $1,725 in new money, including a $1,000 check from the NFIB Florida Political Action Committee. The report also showed $26,351 in spending, nearly all of it on campaign marketing through Front Line Strategies.

Despite the high burn rate in the two-week finance report, Harding has a sizable advantage in the money race.

To date, the Williston Republican has raised more than $140,000 from donors and lent his campaign about $21,000. After expenses, he has $118,000 in the bank.

Randall, meanwhile, showed $800 raised and more than $20,000 spent in his most recent report. Most of the money paid for advertising through Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems.

Through July 10, the Dunnellon Republican had raised $111,065 and spent $41,388, leaving him with $69,666 left to spend.

Harding and Randall are running to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Charlie Stone. The winner of the Aug. 18 primary will move on to face Morriston Democrat Barbara Byram in the general election.

Byram, who entered the race in April, has raised about $3,000 in total and has about $2,000 in the bank.

HD 22 covers all of Levy County as well as southwest Marion County, including parts of Ocala and Dunnellon. It is a safe Republican seat — of the 120,000 voters in the district about 53,000 are registered Republicans and 40,000 are registered Democrats.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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