Why Florida's 'resign to run' law already allowed DeSantis to run without resigning

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After Gov. Ron DeSantis officially entered the 2024 presidential race on Wednesday, many people were left wondering who becomes Florida’s governor after DeSantis resigns.

Florida’s “resign to run” law prohibits elected or appointed “officers” from qualifying as a candidate for another state, district, county or municipal office if the terms or any part run concurrently unless they resign from the office they currently hold.

But in April, the Florida Senate fast-tracked and passed SB 7050, which included an amendment that gave DeSantis the “all-clear” to run for president while maintaining his status as governor.

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DeSantis signed the bill hours after his announcement on Wednesday, but its co-sponsor and author of the original law believes it already allowed DeSantis to run without resigning.

Here’s why:

Who would become Florida’s next governor if DeSantis resigned?

Jeanette Nuñez, the 20th lieutenant governor of Florida, would become Florida’s next governor. The lieutenant governor of Florida is a statewide constitutional office and the second-highest-ranking official in the state.

The Florida Constitution allows the lieutenant governor to serve as the acting governor if the governor leaves the state or has a disability. If the governor dies, resigns or is impeached and removed from office, the lieutenant governor is next in line to take over.

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Why doesn’t Ron DeSantis need to resign to run for president?

The answer is complicated. The quick and easy answer is that the current iteration of Florida’s “resign to run” is written in a way where DeSantis could fall into one of its exceptions.

Republicans attached an amendment to the HB 7050 election bill “clarifying” that the law doesn’t apply to those campaigning for president or vice president.

“But it’s been talked about so much … that I thought, ‘Why don’t we just clarify this one step further?’” said Republican Sen. Travis Huston, co-author of HB 7050. “I think he’s done a great job as our governor, and I think he should stay here as our governor.”

The current “resign to run” law doesn’t apply to political party offices or persons serving without salary as members of an appointed board or authority. And parts of the law do not apply to federal officers or candidates for federal office, stoking the debate about whether DeSantis needed to resign or not.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Why DeSantis doesn't have to resign as governor to run for president