The Republican-controlled Florida state House and Senate passed a bill last week that will allow Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to stay in office if he decides to run for president.
Previously, Florida had a resign-to-run rule, which mandated that DeSantis step down from office 10 days before “qualifying” for the presidential office. His current term ends in 2027.
But there was some ambiguity around what the word “qualify” implied. It could mean when he is approved to be on the general election ballot or even when he makes it into elected office.
“When is a person qualified, under Florida law, to be president of the United States?” Jaime Miller, former executive director of the Florida Republican Party, said to the Daily Caller News Foundation in March.
According to The Associated Press, Florida Republican state Rep. Ralph Massullo said during debate over the measure on Friday that the office of the president is “unique,” since he is “the chief executive of our country.”
“This isn’t just for our governor, it’s for anyone in politics,” he said.
The new legislation provides a carve out from the resign-to-run rule for anyone running for president or vice president. The bill would also change the state’s voting laws to add restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations, mail-in ballots, and voter eligibility.
Trump attacks DeSantis over resign-to-run law
Former President Donald Trump, who is leading in the Republican primary polls for president in 2024, took jabs at the election law on Sunday.
“I couldn’t care less if Ron DeSanctus runs, but the problem is the Bill he is about to sign, which allows him to run without resigning from being Governor, totally weakens Election Integrity in Florida. Instead of getting tough, and doing what the people want (same day voting, Voter ID, proof of Citizenship, paper ballots, hand count, etc.) this Bill guts everything,” Trump said.
“It will allow dirty Voter rolls to get dirtier, weakens transparency, and is a total mess. It’s simple, all we want is a Free and Fair Election, and an honest count,” he added.
This isn’t the first time Trump has used the resign-to-run law to target DeSantis. Last month, Trump’s campaign accused DeSantis of campaigning in states like Georgia, New York, New Hampshire and Utah, while not formally declaring his candidacy.
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is currently on a monthlong, taxpayer-funded presidential campaign schedule paid for by Florida taxpayers, and new questions are emerging as to whether this will force DeSantis to resign from office,” said Trump’s recent campaign email, according to Business Insider.
The history of Florida’s resign-to-run law
Florida's resign-to-run measure was reinstated in 2018 after it was taken off the books by the Republican-controlled Florida State Legislature in 2007 for then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
At the time, Crist was being considered as a running mate for late Republican Sen. John McCain. But McCain picked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate.
The GOP-led Florida legislature has helped DeSantis, whose priorities have faced little resistance from lawmakers. So far, bills that ban abortion after six weeks, allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons and that broaden the death penalty have already been signed into law this year, according to The Washington Post.
DeSantis has not officially announced his campaign and is currently engaged in a book tour for his book, “The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.”