Florida’s republican-controlled state legislature has approved a bill that would allow Governor Ron DeSantis to run for president without resigning as Governor of the state of Florida.
The measure, part of a broader elections bill, creates an exemption to Florida law that mandates officeholders seeking a new position to resign from their current one upon qualifying as a candidate. This exemption applies to officeholders running for president or vice president.
Proponents of the bill argue that it is a clarification of the law and not specifically tailored for DeSantis, who is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the coming weeks. Republican Representative Ralph Massullo said during a House debate, “This isn’t just for our governor, it’s for anyone in politics.” The bill passed along party lines in the state House of Representatives and now awaits DeSantis’ signature to become law.
Democrats have criticized the bill as a cynical move designed to pave the way for DeSantis to run for president while remaining governor. Democratic Representative Angela Nixon stated, “He needs to resign to run if he wants to run for president, period. Last time I checked, being governor is a full-time job. Running for president takes a lot of work.” DeSantis’ current term as governor would end in January 2027.
The elections bill also includes other changes to Florida’s election law, which passed a day after a federal appeals court upheld a Republican-led election law enacted last year. The law faced accusations of racial discrimination and voter suppression, but a three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The new bill tightens limits and increases fines for third-party voter registration organizations, imposes more restrictions on mail ballots, and shifts the responsibility of determining voter eligibility from the state to the individual.
Republicans argue that these measures ensure a legitimate vote, streamline election operations, and eliminate ambiguity in the law. Democratic Representative John Snyder said, “There is no more sacred thing than our vote. It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat.” However, Democrats claim that the bill suppresses the votes of minorities and economically disadvantaged individuals to benefit the Republicans who currently dominate state government and Florida’s federal offices.