Write-in candidate challenges Republican in Florida House 24 election

On Tuesday, voters in Marion County will head to the polls to decide their new representative in the Florida Legislature. The race for the Florida House District 24 special election is between Republican candidate Ryan Chamberlin and write-in candidate Robert “Foxy” Fox.

While Chamberlin’s name will be on the ballot, Fox’s name must be written in by voters. Chamberlin, the CEO of conservative social media platform True Patriot Network and author and consultant, cites supporting Governor Ron DeSantis’ agenda in the Florida House, such as combating “wokeism” in schools, lowering property taxes, and improving infrastructure in the growing Marion County, as his main priorities.

Meanwhile, Fox, a longtime bail bondsman and private investigator, wants to focus on criminal justice reform in the state, increasing transparency by requiring Florida Highway Patrol troopers to wear body cameras, and fighting government corruption. Fox himself was a write-in candidate who used the loophole to close the Republican primary to only GOP voters in March. Fox later discovered that he was approached by a consultant for Chamberlin.

Florida is the only state in the country with the concept of a universal primary. If only candidates for one political party qualify for an election, any party primary is made open to all voters, regardless of party affiliation. However, adding a write-in candidate can close the primary again, which has been used by both parties in recent years to benefit certain candidates. Fox wants to see this loophole changed.

A special election was called for Florida House District 24 after the previous representative, Joe Harding, resigned after being indicted by a federal grand jury for COVID-19 small business loan fraud. According to the Marion County supervisor of elections office, only 5.04% of the 133,736 active eligible voters have voted by mail or early voting.

Polls for the special election open at 7 am on Tuesday and will remain open until 7 pm. Voters can find their polling place on the Marion County supervisor of elections office’s website. The winner of the race will serve for the remainder of the current legislative session, which ends in November.

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