As a Republican candidate, he ran unopposed in the 2011 election. His campaign messaging included using DNA to solve crimes and creating an inmate labor force.
Harding was born and raised in Fork Union, Virginia in Fluvanna County. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1973 with a degree in Social Welfare and worked as a probation counselor with Virginia's juvenile court system. In 1978, he became an officer with the Charlottesville Police Department. In 1989, Sergeant Harding was the first local officer ever selected to supervise a Federal Drug Task Force.
Harding serves as the vice chair of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry, which provides Bible classes and counseling services to inmates at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail. He also serves on the Fiduciary Board of Tom Tom Founders Festival. Each year, Harding's Sherriff's office hosts a golf tournament to raise funds for the volunteer efforts with search and rescue. 
Harding announced on January 10, 2015 that he will see a third and final term as sheriff. 
|J. E. "Chip" Harding||19,557||54.57|
|J. E. "Chip" Harding||12,613||54.57|
|Larry W. Claytor||10,491||45.39|
- Web. Leaving a legacy: Albemarle Sheriff Harding to retire in ‘19 after nearly 50 years in law enforcement, Allison Wrabel, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, retrieved January 14, 2019.
- Web. Sheriff Harding to seek re-election, Sharon C. Fitzgerald, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, 22 March 2011, retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Web. Who is Chip Harding?, Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Web. Harding To Run One Last Time For Office, Stephon Dingle, Charlottesville Newsplex, January 10, 2015, retrieved January 12, 2015.