If Republican Ron DeSantis of Florida becomes the party’s presidential nominee in 2024, the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, will change the legislation so that he does not have to leave his current post as governor.
With only one more day left in the legislative session, Senate Republicans want to include the measure in a massive elections package that will be considered by the full Senate on Wednesday. The elections measure is high on the agenda for DeSantis and the Republican party, and it is likely to reach the governor’s desk by May 5.
This comes as DeSantis prepares to enter the crowded Republican primary for president, where he will face off against Trump and other establishment candidates. DeSantis has been out on a book tour, which many perceive as a dry run for his upcoming presidential run, visiting early primary states.
Yet Trump has been ahead in the polls and has received endorsements from a wide range of people, including several Republican members of Congress from Florida.
There are conflicting legal perspectives on whether or not a candidate for president or vice president would be subject to Florida’s current “resign-to-run” legislation. However, Republican lawmakers have decided to eliminate any uncertainty with this bill.
“If there is ambiguity, and it’s been something that’s been talked about — especially ad nauseam since November if not longer — then let’s do it, let’s clarify it,” Senator Danny Burgess, a Republican from Texas and head of the Senate’s Ethics and Elections Committee made this statement.
“That way, should we be fortunate enough to have a president or vice president from Florida one day, we’ve cleared that air.”
Republican senators’ decision to make this shift is sure to draw fire from Trump supporters who have already criticized them for talking about this issue. The Trump team issued a statement earlier this month criticizing DeSantis for his recent travels and pointing out that he had resigned from Congress during his previous run for governor. Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Donald Trump’s campaign, described it as a “massive flip-flop.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried criticized lawmakers for “doing the bidding of Ron DeSantis.”
“This is just the latest example of Florida Republicans enabling DeSantis’ pursuit of his national ambitions as he fails Floridians on the issues that affect them most,” Said Fried through short message service.
If the terms of your current and prospective positions overlap in Florida, you must submit an irreversible letter of resignation prior to qualifying for the new office. In 2007, lawmakers amended the statute to allow then-Gov.
Charlie Crist to run for vice president; in 2018, they reinstated the requirement that candidates for federal office submit a letter of resignation prior to the election.
Since DeSantis was just reelected, he does not fall within the exception for those whose terms are expiring that was included in the 2018 statute.
After DeSantis’s reelection victory, the state’s two legislative leaders said they might be open to changing the legislation to boost a future campaign. However, Republican lawmakers throughout the first seven weeks of the current legislative session did not provide any concrete suggestions.
To clarify that presidential and vice presidential candidates are exempt from the state’s qualifying standards, including the resign-to-run clause, the Senate published a roughly 100-page update of this year’s election laws on Tuesday afternoon.