Florida Lawmakers Pass Bill to Help DeSantis’ Presidential Aspirations

Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that would exempt elected officials in the state from having to resign their current office if they run for president or vice president. The move is expected to benefit Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president in 2024. The state’s current “resign to run” law requires candidates seeking higher office to give up their elected post once they qualify for the ballot.[0] The provision, which was added to a bill making its way to the Florida State Senate, would exempt presidential candidates from this law.

This is not the first time that Florida lawmakers have voted to amend the resign-to-run law to help clear a path for a governor to reach the White House.[1] In 2007, the law was changed to remove the requirement for federal candidates, which was seen as a move to assist then-Gov.[2] Charlie Crist was among the contenders considered for the position of running mate on the 2008 Republican Party’s presidential ticket.[3]

DeSantis has not officially declared his candidacy for president, but reports suggest that he plans to do so sometime this spring.[4] After being inaugurated as the governor of Florida in 2019, the ex-congressman has emerged as a prominent figure in the GOP. His resounding victory in the recent midterm elections has solidified his position as a potential candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, earning him the nickname of the party’s future.[0]

However, changing the rules for candidates to the benefit of one person – DeSantis – has put the Republican’s political ambitions nakedly on display for Democrats to criticize and future rivals to potentially seize on.[5] During the debate on the bill, Democratic lawmakers criticized Republicans for allowing DeSantis to govern the third-largest state of the country from the campaign trail.[5] The governor’s frequent travel has been under attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump, who is currently leading the race for the GOP nomination. They argue that this is proof that he should have resigned by now.[6] Stand For America, a super PAC associated with another prospective 2024 competitor, the ex-Governor of South Carolina.[6] CNN has received information from a source familiar with their plans that Nikki Haley is already strategizing on how to take advantage of DeSantis’ actions regarding the state law.[5]

Despite potential criticism, DeSantis is stacking GOP policy victories to potentially run on, including a six-week abortion ban and a permitless concealed carry law.[6] DeSantis has capitalized on his advantage over a group of candidates, three of whom are currently referred to as “former”[5] DeSantis’ likely 2024 campaign for president has loomed over much of the legislative session, and Republicans for the most part fulfilled DeSantis’ agenda.[7]

If DeSantis decides to run for president, many believe he will be a formidable opponent. According to surveys, he ranks as the second most favored option among Republican voters, making him the strongest contender against Trump in the GOP primaries.[8] However, Trump has taken every available opportunity to prove the opposite: that he views DeSantis as his top rival and most serious obstacle ahead of the 2024 primaries.[4] The Florida governor has been targeted by his would-be opponent in speeches, video messages, Truth Social rants, and even targeted press releases from the Trump campaign as Mr. Trump seeks to snuff out a DeSantis bid before it gets off the ground.[4]

Overall, the changes to Florida’s “resign to run” law are indicative of the current political climate in the state, as well as the Republican party as a whole. Despite potential criticism and pushback from Democrats and other rivals, it seems that DeSantis and his supporters are willing to do what it takes to clear a path for his potential candidacy for president.

0. “Florida Bill Would Allow DeSantis to Run in 2024 Without Resigning” Newsweek, 25 Apr. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/florida-bill-would-allow-desantis-run-2024-without-resigning-1796666

1. “Lawmakers vote to eliminate rule that requires resignation from office before presidential bid” WTSP.com, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/regional/florida/lawmakers-vote-resignation-from-office-presidential-bid/67-015655c8-370d-4bc7-930d-96b77e1340f5

2. “Florida GOP lawmakers clear path for DeSantis to run for president without resigning” KVOA Tucson News, 28 Apr. 2023, https://www.kvoa.com/florida-gop-lawmakers-clear-path-for-desantis-to-run-for-president-without-resigning/article_63852573-6e21-575e-9cdc-54a7abe5d4da.html

3. “Florida GOP set to remove hurdle to DeSantis White House bid” WESH 2 Orlando, 26 Apr. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/desantis-president-florida-law/43707907

4. “Trump insists he ‘couldn’t care less’ if DeSantis runs against him” The Independent, 30 Apr. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-desantis-run-2024-attacks-b2329911.html

5. “DeSantis left Congress amid his race for governor. He now will decide on bill allowing him to run for president without resigning” CNN, 3 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/03/politics/desantis-resign-to-run-florida/index.html

6. “DeSantis left Congress amid his race for governor. He now will decide on bill allowing him to run for president without …” erienewsnow.com, 3 May. 2023, https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/48838327/desantis-left-congress-amid-his-race-governor-he-now-will-decide-on-bill-allowing-him-to-run-for-president-without-resigning

7. “Florida Legislature: We delivered for DeSantis this session” POLITICO, 1 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/01/florida-republicans-gave-desantis-most-of-his-legislative-wishlist-00094600

8. “Trump and Kari Lake Hint at MAGA Boycott if DeSantis Pursues GOP Nomination” Newsweek, 1 May. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/trump-kari-lake-hint-maga-boycott-if-desantis-takes-gop-nomination-1797646

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