Proposed Change to Florida’s ‘Resign-to-Run’ Law May Pave Way for DeSantis 2024 Bid
Proposed Change to Florida’s ‘Resign-to-Run’ Law May Pave Way for DeSantis 2024 Bid

By Caden Pearson

Florida state Sen. Travis Hutson has introduced a proposal to amend the state’s “resign-to-run” law, which would allow Gov. Ron DeSantis to announce his candidacy for the presidency without resigning as governor.

The proposed amendment is part of Senate Bill 7050 (pdf), a larger piece of legislation related to state elections. It would change the existing provision in Florida Statute that requires any public official seeking federal office to resign from their current state position if the terms run concurrently with each other.

The amendment would exclude candidates running for president or vice president from Florida’s “resign-to-run” law, and is intended to “clarify existing law.”

The amendment reads, in part, “Any person seeking the office of President or Vice President of the United States is not subject to the requirements of chapter 99, Florida Statutes, which govern candidate qualifying, specifically those which require the submission of certain documents, full and public disclosures of financial interests, petition signatures, or the payment of filing fees.”

DeSantis is widely expected to run for president despite the lack of an official announcement. As a potential presidential candidate and the current governor of Florida, the existing law mandates that DeSantis submit a written resignation, but the specific date for this is uncertain.

The governor has been on a recent book tour in early primary states, made speaking appearances around the country, and is currently on an international trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel, and the UK.

The proposed amendment would allow DeSantis to run for president without resigning his top position in Florida, but he would have to give up the last two years of his governorship, as he is term-limited and cannot seek a third term.

DeSantis became Florida’s governor in 2019. In January, he began his second four-year term. If he resigns, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez will ascend to the governorship.

On Tuesday, DeSantis told Asia Nikkei that he wouldn’t be making any announcements until the “end of the legislative session” in May. “So, just stay tuned,” he said.

The Bill

The proposal, which will be considered by the state Legislature on Wednesday, is a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to make changes to state election laws.

Besides the “resign-to-run” amendment, the bill proposes to strengthen signature matching training requirements, clarify the responsibilities of the Office of Election Crimes and Security and statewide prosecutor, and introduce changes to voter registration requirements, procedures, and deadlines.

The bill also updates the processes for voter registration list maintenance activities and enhances the information that other governmental entities must provide for that purpose. It also creates a new candidate disclosure requirement for outstanding fines and fees and specifies how candidates with the same surname running for the same office in a general election may be distinguished on the ballot.

The state’s “resign-to-run” law has been changed more than once to help a Florida governor. In 2007, Florida lawmakers repealed the law to help then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who was being considered as a running mate for Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Then, in 2018, the law was reactivated by former Sen. Rick Scott, who was governor of Florida from 2011 to 2019.

‘Shadow Campaign’

In recent polls, the undeclared DeSantis has trailed behind former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy in November 2022.

In March, the political action committee “Make America Great Again Inc.,” which is aligned with Trump, accused DeSantis of skirting Florida’s “resign-to-run” law by running an illegal “shadow campaign” for president.

Taylor Budowich, head of the PAC, wrote a 15-page letter to the Florida Commission on Ethics detailing the allegations against DeSantis, including fundraising and expenditure concerns.

A spokeswoman for DeSantis previously told The Epoch Times the ethics complaint was frivolous and politically motivated.

“Adding this to the list of frivolous and politically motivated attacks. It’s inappropriate to use state ethics complaints for partisan purposes,” said Taryn Fenske, communications director for DeSantis, in a text to The Epoch Times.

Five more Republicans have officially declared their candidacy for the GOP nomination, including Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina; Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and writer; Perry Johnson, a Michigan-based businessman; Steve Laffey, a former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island; and Larry Elder, a conservative radio personality.

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