Gov. Ron DeSantis sets HD 24 Special Election to replace Joe Harding
image via AP.

The HD 24 Primary is set for March 7. The General Election will take place May 16.

Joe Harding, the former House member who resigned his seat this month after being indicted for wire fraud related to an alleged COVID-19 business loan scheme, won’t be replaced in the Legislature until after next year’s Legislative Session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday setting dates for the House District 24 Special Election to replace Harding, with the Primary taking place March 7 and the General Election held May 16. Session is set to end on May 5.

Harding, an Ocala Republican, was indicted on federal charges he fraudulently applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration for businesses that were inactive until December 2020. Congress established the loan program to help businesses meet payroll while workers were required to be home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

He resigned Dec. 8 and his trial could also begin in May.

The HD 24 seat covers the central and southern portion of Marion County, including part of Ocala, and is likely to remain in Republican control.

Harding attracted headlines earlier this year as the sponsor of the Parental Rights in Education bill, which opponents dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” because it prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and only in an “age-appropriate manner” in later grades.

Harding was first elected in 2020, defeating Republican Russ Randall 70% to 30% in the Primary and going on to beat Democrat Barbara Byram 65%-35% in the General Election. He did not face opposition this year and was automatically reelected at the end of qualifying in June.

House Speaker Paul Renner had assigned Harding to the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, the Judiciary Committee, the Civil Justice Subcommittee and the Local Administration, Federal Affairs and Special Districts Subcommittee and was named vice chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. Renner named his replacements on those panels earlier this month.

Gray Rohrer


  • More Hypocrisy

    December 21, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    Wow, only 3 months away. It’s shocking (!) that our hypocritical governor didn’t wait 10 months like he did when it was a South Florida dem-leaning congressional seat!

    DeSantis will never be elected president. This “rules for thee but not for me” attitude and partisan nonsense may fly in Florida, but it will go over like a lead balloon in the swing states.

  • Rebecca

    December 21, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Why do Republicans keep getting caught committing fraud?

Comments are closed.


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