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Florida Legislature Set to Change Resign-to-Run Law

In the Q&A posting the weekend before last, we included this question and answer:

T.C. in Miami Beach, FL, asks: Florida has a resign-to-run law (i.e., a sitting mayor with eyes on a open congressional seat must resign the mayoralty in order to run for Congress). Would this apply to Ron DeSantis if he chooses to run for president?

V & Z answer: Florida's resign-to-run law only applies to state and municipal offices. So, a mayor has to resign in order to run for governor, but not to run for Congress.

That means the law would have no effect on a DeSantis presidential run. And even if it did, the state legislature lives in his pocket, and he'd just make them change the law. The Texas legislature did the same thing for Lyndon Johnson in 1960, changing Texas law so he could simultaneously run for the U.S. Senate (again) and for vice president.

Turns out we were wrong... and right.

You see, we don't have every state's election code memorized. In fact, we don't have any state's election code memorized. We know enough to know that resign-to-run laws vary by state, and we also know how to look things up. And so, we confirmed that the last update to Florida's resign-to-run law was in 2018. And then we found this overview of the state's resign-to-run law on the website of the Florida Secretary of State. It says "Updated 01/2018," which means it's current. And it also says that "Exceptions to the resign-to-run law" include "Candidates for federal office" and "Persons seeking the office of President or Vice President." That's what you call rock-solid evidence, and so we ran with it.

Well, for reasons that still aren't clear to us, the resign-to-run law might potentially kick in if Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) decides to run for president. You can click on the link above and confirm for yourself that it is unambiguous, and says in two different ways that a DeSantis presidential run won't trigger the law (since he would be a candidate for federal office, and since he would specifically be a candidate for president). And again, the law hasn't been updated since 2018, so that link is not outdated. We are not sure what's going on here. Maybe the Florida Secretary of State doesn't understand Florida's election laws. That would be... unfortunate, if true.

In any event, our answer was still correct thanks to our observation that if it became necessary, the Florida legislature would do DeSantis' bidding and change the law to accommodate him. That's the news out of the Sunshine State yesterday, with both House Speaker Paul Renner (R) and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) confirming that they are on board. So, an LBJ-style "adjustment" is pretty much a done deal. And so, for that matter, is a DeSantis 2024 presidential run. One does not generally arrange for the laws regarding running for office to be changed unless one actually plans to run for office. (Z)

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