Chamberlin wins special primary election for House Seat 24

Home » News
Posted March 7, 2023 | By Jennifer Hunt Murty

Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox’s unofficial results for the special primary election to fill House Seat 24 show Ryan Chamberlin the winner.

There are 61,421 registered voters in that district, but only 11,095 ballots were cast.

Five Republican candidates entered the race for the House seat: Charlie StoneStephen PylesJose JuarezRyan Chamberlin and Justin Albright.

When registered Republican Robert “Foxy” Fox filed as a write-in candidate, it triggered a general election for May 16 and closed the primary to only Republican voters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order dated Dec. 19, 2022, declaring a special election to fill the Florida House District 24 seat vacated by Ocala Republican Joe Harding, who resigned his seat Dec. 8, 2022, after being indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud charges.

Chamberlin, a political activist and business consultant, received 3,985 votes. Chamberlin contributed $75,000 to his campaign and raised $70,935 from 140 other donors, according to the last financial reports.

Jose Juarez, a local businessman and political newcomer, came in second garnering 2,912 votes. Juarez raised approximately $55,000 from at least 98 donors and contributed $20,000 of his own money to his campaign, according to the last financial reports.

Charlie Stone raised the most out of the candidates, at $140,887 from over 175 donors as well as chipping in $50,000 from personal funds to his campaign. Stone, who served for eight years on the Marion County Board of County Commissioners, and who served out term limits in the House from 2012-2020, campaigned that his experience would make him more effective than his opponents and that he’d be able to hit the ground running if elected.

Stone received 2,483 votes.

Justin Albright, a local real estate broker, garnered 846 votes. Albright, also a political newcomer, contributed $22,000 to his own campaign and raised another $8,125    from donors, according to the last financial reports.

Dr. Stephen Pyles, a medical physician, had 854 of the votes and primarily funded his own campaign, contributing $60,000 to it. He raised another $15,630 from 61 other donors. This, too, was Pyles’ first political campaign, and he ran on the idea that legislators would benefit from having more physicians amongst their rank.

The only opposition Chamberlin faces in the general election is write-in candidate Robert “Foxy” Fox.

Although a write-in candidate has never won an election in Florida, Fox indicates that he has every intention of campaigning hard to beat Chamberlin and win the general election.

The special election for the Florida House District 24 House seat will cost taxpayers almost $500,000 for both a primary and general election, according to Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox.

Unlike other state and county officers, members of this legislative body take office on midnight of the day of the general election. In this case, the winner would take office after this year’s legislative session ends.

Representatives serve two-year terms and are limited to four terms. After sitting out a term, they can run again, as Stone did in this election.

Wilcox will conduct an audit and certify results by March 17 and complete the post-election audit by March 20.

The “Gazette” asked political newcomers Pyles, Juarez and Albright if they’d ever consider running again after this special election experience.

Juarez replied, “This election process was very special for us. God delivered the most amazing group of supporters. It was overwhelming. I feel a responsibility to these people, so you just may hear from me again.”

Albright said, “I enjoyed running and meeting so many great people. I’m glad I did it as I learned so much.  The Lord has something different in store for me.  As for running again, if the Lord calls on me to do so then I will.”

Pyles was the only one of the three said expressed some reservation, but was quick to compliment his opponent, Juarez, who came in second. “He ran a great campaign and deserved to win.”

Stone remarked to the “Gazette” that despite running “a strong campaign with a great message,” ultimately, “the negative hit pieces took its toll on us.”

“I hope Marion County gets the representation they deserve,” Stone added.

Chamberlin could not be reached for comment.

newspaper icon

Support community journalism

The first goal of the Ocala Gazette is to deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public or unchallenged.

We count on community support to continue this important work. Please donate or subscribe: