Six things national media should know about Florida’s resign-to-run law
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/7/23-Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Nothing is going to force Ron DeSantis to stop being Governor any time soon.

Update: Language to change Florida’s resign-to-run law to exempt candidates for President and Vice President has been filed and is under consideration in the Florida Legislature. That likely means the resign-to-run law soon will no longer apply to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ expected campaign for President. But here’s an explainer on how the law works today.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to launch a presidential campaign, there are clear misunderstandings about Florida’s resign-to-run law.

An Associated Press article published Monday features just one example of individuals, even political press, misstating what the law requires and when it goes into effect. That article says Florida law “bars officials from seeking one office while holding another.” Donald Trump’s campaign issued a memo asserting DeSantis’ “campaign travel appears to put him at odds with Florida’s existing ‘Resign to Run’ law,” but the law doesn’t pertain to travel at all.

It’s clear that not everyone understands this law. For the sake of national figures unfamiliar with state statute, here are a few things to know about what the resign-to-run law requires, what it doesn’t and what’s debatable.

No interpretation forces DeSantis to stop serving now

This law is about holding two offices at once. It only becomes an issue when candidates seek a higher office with a term that overlaps with an office they hold.

That is the case here, as DeSantis’ second term as Governor runs until early 2027. But what matters is when DeSantis theoretically would take office as President if he won the election.

In this case, DeSantis could submit a resignation that became effective on Jan. 20, 2025, the day the winner of the 2024 Presidential Election will be inaugurated.

Resignations are irrevocable

Under Florida law, this is a permanent decision once it is made. Whenever DeSantis submits a resignation, if he invokes the resign-to-run law, he cannot take the resignation back even if it doesn’t take effect for more than a year. The big catch is that the resignation takes place, win or lose.

That’s just one more reason this decision isn’t likely to be made very soon. But DeSantis also may wait simply because he can.

The resign-to-run deadline doesn’t kick in soon

Florida law only requires a resignation to be submitted 10 days prior to the qualification deadline for candidates. Since Florida law only really regulates Florida elections, what matters most is the Florida Presidential Primary, scheduled for Mar. 19.

Major political parties submit lists of candidates who will appear on that ballot, and must do so by Nov. 30 this year. That means Nov. 20 is the soonest DeSantis could conceivably be required to submit a resignation.

State officers must resign to run for federal office …

Gov. Rick Scott did sign a law in 2018 that required state candidates seeking federal office to resign to run for federal office if the terms overlap. Notably, that did not impact Scott, who ran for Senate that year but was ending his second term as Governor anyway. Language was included in the law at that time that allowed Scott to serve out his term as Governor instead of resigning days from the end to start his Senate term with the rest of his class.

The change in law did impacted elections almost immediately at the time, including forcing a state Senator to resign in order to run for Congress.

… but many suspect the law doesn’t apply for the presidential race

The situation with DeSantis is unprecedented in modern history. There would be no need to hold an election for a successor, as Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez will take the reins immediately when DeSantis leaves office.

But the office of President is different, as it’s the only one elected by voters in multiple states.

There is a question about what constitutes qualifying for office at all. Florida American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Nicholas Warren wrote a widely read Twitter thread last year suggesting DeSantis never needs to qualify, and thus won’t have to resign at all, unless he wins the presidency, of course.

He argued that since parties simply list who appears on the ballot, the state doesn’t have a qualifying process governing presidential candidates. If there is no qualifying date, then there is no 10-day advanced notice requirement, and a candidate would simply need to resign before they take office as President.

The Legislature can change things easily

Most in Florida consider this a moot point (see update above). The Legislature in 2007 changed the resign-to-run law to exempt candidates for President and Vice President, responding to just the hint that Republican presidential nominee John McCain might pick then-Gov. Charlie Crist as his running mate.

The law was changed back later, and now does not contain those explicit exemptions. But again, it’s unclear whether they need to be spelled out, or whether the presidential nominating process is already unique enough that the standard resign-to-run law does not apply.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has suggested repeatedly she doesn’t think Florida needs to change the law in order for DeSantis to run, but she has also said she has no problem doing so. House Speaker Paul Renner has shown a desire to change the law and make clear DeSantis need not submit a resignation at all in order to run.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


16 comments

  • Earl Pitts American

    April 24, 2023 at 11:23 am

    Good morning America,
    I, Earl Pitts “Political Genius” American, totally understand Florida’s Resign To Run law.
    But the subject even as presented in the “dumbed down” version above is far and away too complex for leftist dook 4 brains media and leftist dook 4 brains regular citizens to comprehend. And Thats The Way It Is.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “Political Genius” American

    • Elliott Offen

      April 24, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      👆 This idiot’s screen name used to be “Tom.” Now after calling a hurricane a “tropical 4 swirling wind”.. this idiot has changed his screen name and continued to insist that he has the sense that God gave an ape.. and he really doesn’t.

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 24, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    If Rhonda’s Panties does not resign from his Goobernorship of Fleur D’uh, every voter can rightly infer from his lack of resignation that he confesses himself to be unqualified to be President. On this opinion, Rhonda and I agree: Ron Duh is definitely not qualified to be President. He ain’t even qualified to be President of Reedy Creek HOA. What a dip stick that Meatwad is, getting shoved around by Disney after picking a senseless fight with them and then failing to even see it thru. Roscoe D Coltraine’s entire thought process is just about the headlines, and he can’t even think the headlines all the way through. Burning books to keeps kids “safe” at school while the bullets continue to fly. DIP. STICK.

  • Can Trump Even Run?

    April 24, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    Can Trump even run for President since he didn’t resign? Trump doesn’t even admit he got spanked by Joe Biden. JOE. BIDEN. Nobody even likes Joe Biden, but old Joe spanked Trump hard. And that was before Trump did his January 6th thing and the fake electors thing and the bigly pathetic attempt at mob bossing Georgia’s election officials and before Fox News paid three quarters of a billion dollars to Dominion Voting Systems over the stolen election lies told by Fox hosts and by Trump.

  • Acid Head Ed 🖕

    April 24, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    Gotta resign to run. Sorry. You can’t be like the Chinese or Russian president and just change the rules for your own benefit. Funny he wants his cake with the ability to eat it too. Gonna have to take a chance at losing both the presidency and the governorship…or you can’t run. You gotta plan ahead based on a good assessment of your chances and go all in.

  • Tucker Frump

    April 24, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    Tucker Carlson fired. What will EPA think now without anybody to tell him what he thinks? Maybe Tucker is getting into Rhonda’s Panties campaign, a very fitting place for the widdle likes of Tucker.

  • DeSantis is a failed leader

    April 24, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    sounds like true Republican politics just change the law to suit you. Forgetting about the constituents one serves, these politicians are servants to the people Florida.

    DeSantis is political career is coming to a Quick end. He had his moment in the spotlight, but the lights are dimming

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 25, 2023 at 7:52 am

      DeSanties is halfway to being a failed leader. He has yet to show any leadership, but his Governorship has been raining buckets of failure since before it even started.

  • Nicole

    April 24, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    I hope DeSantis runs and then loses his place!!! He is a disaster for Fla. He needs to go live in another Country!!! He is taking Freedoms away not giving them. From banning books to attacking Mickey Mouse! Tired of his 3rd World antics!

  • David E Bruderly

    April 24, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    How much $$$ are Florida taxpayers paying for Ronnie’s book tour & world travels? What is he doing in Japan, South Korea, etc…???

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 25, 2023 at 7:56 am

      Whaddya think he’s doing? He over there saying “Come to Florida! We have Disney World and the beach” while back home he is trying to ruin both Disney World and the beach. The beach? What? Yeah! If that border wall ever gets built, border crossing will be boats of Central Americans landing on the beaches. What comes next? Barbed wire beaches, of course.

  • Ruth Clough

    April 24, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    He is one step behind Trump used and lose. I hope my American will come back to thinking. I miss the American I grew up in.

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 25, 2023 at 7:51 am

      People talk about making America like it was when they were children. They just don’t realize America wasn’t any better back then. They were just children. Their parents dealt with the grown-up problems. You can’t be a child again unless you get the dementia, but I promise you don’t want that.

  • Lex

    April 25, 2023 at 12:40 pm

    I agree it is legally ambiguous whether you need to resign to run for President of the United States. I disagree with Passidomo, the law should still be changed so that it is clear that the resignation is not required. I don’t mind the change for Desantis to be able to run, but I would hope that the legislature would not change it right back the way they did previously. It is okay to fix what you see as an issue, but the change should be a consistent standard that can apply to all parties going forward.

  • K Snow

    April 25, 2023 at 4:51 pm

    My question is, Isn’t being governor a 24/7 position? Why do FL people have to pay for DeSantas travels for his “book tour” (campaigning). Neither have anything to do with FL business as governor. I DON’T want to pay for his expenses to run for president, even if he hasn’t officially declared his candidacy!! Everyone knows he’s campaigning, why would his ” book tour” just happen to be scheduled NOW?

  • John Barron

    April 25, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    Meatball Ron & Biggie Smalls DeSantis think they are entitled to the nomination but it’s going to trump whether u like it or him or not.

Comments are closed.


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