Rep. Joe Harding will run in House District 24 this year.
The freshman Republican said he already had purchased and moved to a new home in Ocala. His shift in residency, which will be reflected in new financial disclosures, eliminate the prospect of Harding facing Rep. Chuck Clemons in a Republican Primary this year.
But Harding said redistricting is not the reason for the move. The Williston native said he moved to Marion County to be closer to his workplace. He’s a director of a home health agency based in Ocala. The change in residency was happening before redistricting took place. His new home is in a part of the Ocala area in the new HD 24 but also in his existing House District 22.
“I moved to be closer to work,” Harding said. “All along I was running where I live. Thankfully it has worked out.”
The once-a-decade redistricting process should set political boundaries for the coming decade.
Today, Harding represents a district that covers all of Levy County and a portion of Marion County.
Meanwhile, the new HD 24 falls entirely within Marion County, but most of the turf comes from Harding’s current district where he has campaigned before. That includes much of southwest Ocala south of Silver Springs Boulevard. The district reaches south to the Sumter County line. New territory for Harding includes the city of Belleview, which falls fully within the new district. And while Harding already represents much of southwest Ocala, his new district covers portions of Southeast Ocala as well.
Harding last year won his first term after defeating Russ Randall in a GOP Primary and Democrat Barbara Byram in the General Election. Neither live in the new HD 24. Byram lives in the new HD 22 and is filed to run in 2022.
Notably, the move shifts Harding from one of the most closely divided electorates in the last presidential election to a decidedly GOP-friendly district now. About 61.11% of voters in the new HD 24 voted for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election, according to a partisan performance analysis by MCI Maps.