A Republican Florida state senator filed an amendment Tuesday that could eliminate one logistical hurdle for the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, should he decide to run for president in 2024. Florida state senator Travis Hutson has proposed an amendment that would change the state’s “resign to run” law, which currently requires public officials to resign before running for another office with overlapping terms. The Florida Senate passed the election bill—with the “resign-to-run” amendment—on Wednesday.
Under the current law, DeSantis would need to submit a resignation letter 10 days before Florida’s presidential qualification deadline in December 2023, and the resignation would be irrevocable and effective on the day of the president-elect’s inauguration in 2025, even if DeSantis were to lose in the primary or general election.
Hutson’s amendment would exempt “Persons seeking the office of President or Vice President of the United States” from the resignation requirement, and it would take effect on July 1. The amendment was added to a sweeping elections bill that is a top priority for DeSantis and Republicans, and which is expected to go to the governor’s desk between now and May 5.
The move comes as DeSantis has been visiting early primary states as part of a book promotional tour that has been seen as a warm-up exercise to a full-blown campaign. However, he has not yet made any official announcement about his candidacy, and has said that he won’t decide until after the legislative session ends in early May. He is also facing competition from former President Donald Trump, who is widely expected to run again and has already been racking up endorsements and leading in polls.
The change to the “resign to run” law is likely to spark criticism from Trump supporters who had already been critical of lawmakers for discussing it previously. The Trump campaign recently put out a statement criticizing DeSantis over his recent travels and noting that he had resigned from his post in Congress while he was campaigning for governor the first time, calling it a “massive flip-flop.”
The debate over the amendment and the overall election law bill is set to take place on Wednesday, with a potential vote the same day or Thursday. The amendment’s fate is uncertain, as some Republicans may be reluctant to risk angering Trump and his supporters, while others may see DeSantis as a more electable candidate in the general election.
In addition to the “resign to run” law, the elections bill includes a number of other controversial provisions, such as new restrictions on outside groups that focus on voter registration drives, restricting the amount of time to request a vote-by-mail ballot, as well as continuing to chip away at the voter-backed Amendment 4, which allowed returning citizens to regain voting rights. Critics of the bill have a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic voters — one out of every 10 of whom are registered to vote by an outside voter registration organization, along with one out of every 50 white voters. The bill does nothing to increase voter registration outreach by elections offices to fill the gap that will be left by reduced operations of third-party voter registration organizations.