Second candidate files for seat vacated by Rep. Joe Harding

Rep. Joe Harding, R-Williston, offers closing remarks on HB 735, a bill relating to Preemption of Local Occupational Licensing, on the House floor. April 1, 2021. [Credit: Florida House of Representatives]

A second candidate has taken the initial step toward trying to replace former state Rep. Joe Harding, an Ocala Republican who resigned last week after being indicted on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements. 

Ocala Republican Jose Juarez opened a campaign account Monday to run in Marion County’s House District 24, according to the state Division of Elections website. Juarez joined Belleview Republican Ryan Chamberlin, who opened a campaign account Friday. 

Harding, who resigned Thursday, is accused of fraudulently obtaining coronavirus-related business loans. He was first elected in 2020 and ran unopposed this year. It is unclear when a special election will be held to fill the seat.