- DeSantis signed a bill into law that will change Florida’s “Resign to Run” rules.
- It’ll allow him to stay governor while running for president.
- The Trump campaign criticized DeSantis for his book-tour travel, viewed by many as a “soft campaign” launch.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Wednesday that will allow him to hold down two jobs: governor of Florida and 2024 presidential candidate.
DeSantis signed the bill outside of a public ceremony, shortly after news broke that he officially filed his intent to run for president with the Federal Elections Commission. He’s planning to announce his White House run during a Twitter Spaces discussion with its CEO Elon Musk.
The repeal of the so-called “Resign to Run” measure will ease his path to run for higher office — whether president or vice president — while also ensuring he can return to his post if he fails to win the GOP nomination or the presidency.
The change to the so-called “Resign to Run” law was an amendment tucked into a broader elections reform bill. During the legislative session, Florida lawmakers questioned whether the change was necessary, but backers of the amendment stressed they wanted to remove any uncertainty.
Former President Donald Trump’s campaign has already accused DeSantis of being in violation of the “Resign to Run” law through his book tour stops that began two months ago. The campaign also bashed DeSantis in a recent email to reporters, with an image headlined “Never in Town,” that criticized the governor for being on a foreign trip and book tour while Florida lawmakers were in session.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to campaign full-time for president, during the Florida legislative session, while collecting a salary and having the taxpayers pick up the costs for his travel and security,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.
Under the original language of the “Resign to Run” law, candidates for federal office have 10 days to resign after they qualify for federal office, but how exactly that was defined when it came to the presidency wasn’t clear and has been open to different interpretations, according to The Miami Herald.
The text of the law read, “Any officer who qualifies for federal public office must resign from the office he or she presently holds if the terms, or any part thereof, run concurrently with each other.”
The new amendment provides a specific carve-out when a candidate is running for president or vice president.
Such a change has happened before. The legislature loosened the law in 2008 when then-Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican, was a running mate contender for GOP presidential candidate John McCain — but then changed it back in 2010.
During the debate over the bill, Florida Democrats raised concerns about “dereliction of duty.”
“If you think about the reasons why we had Resign-to-Run laws, it’s so people could focus on their campaign and not be negligent about their current office,” Democratic state Sen. Tina Scott Polsky of Boca Raton said in the chamber last week. “How is it that the governor of 23 million people is going to spend a year and a half going around this entire huge country and govern this huge state?”
Ben Wilcox, research director and co-founder of the good government group Integrity Florida, raised similar concerns, saying he thought DeSantis should be fully focused on the job Floridians elected him to do “and not the job he aspires to.”
“He was asked repeatedly during the 2022 campaign for governor if he was going to run for president and his answer was evasive in that he said he was running to be governor,” Wilcox told Insider. “He should be held to that and resign if he’s changed his mind.”
The amendment’s author, GOP state Sen. Travis Hutson of St. Augustine, said he disagreed with the assessment that DeSantis wouldn’t be able to both operate as governor and run for president.
“It’s probably me being a little selfish here,” Hutson said in the chamber. “If for some reason the governor is not going to win the president of the United States, I think he has done a great job as governor and I think he should stay here as our governor.”
DeSantis is set to face off against Trump, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to enter the contest.
DeSantis is poised to hold down the grueling task of running for president while also leading the third-largest state in the US, along with being a spouse to Florida first lady Casey DeSantis and parent to three children ages 6 and younger.
DeSantis resigned from the US House when he ran for governor. If he were to resign the governorship then Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez would replace him, becoming the first woman to become governor of Florida.