The Florida Legislature is poised to change the law to support DeSantis’ presidential bid

Florida’s top Republican leaders have stated their willingness to modify state law to allow Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024.

Both House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), who were sworn in on Tuesday, thought it would be a “good idea” to make it plain that DeSantis would not be required to quit if he became the GOP candidate.

DeSantis was re-elected to a second four-year term earlier this month, defeating his Democratic opponent by about 20 points.

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“If a Florida governor runs for president, I believe he should be allowed to do so,” Passidomo told reporters. “I truly do. It’s a great honour and privilege, so it’s a good idea.”

While DeSantis has not confirmed that he will run in 2024, he has emerged as a top potential candidate. Some are pressuring him to run, despite the fact that former President Donald Trump has already announced his third bid for the presidency. Recent polls show that Republican voters are increasingly supportive of DeSantis.

If the terms of the two offices overlap, Florida law requires anyone running for a new office to submit an irrevocable letter of resignation before qualifying. The law was changed in 2008 to allow then-Gov. Charlie Crist to run for vice president, but legislators reversed course four years later and reinstated the requirement that anyone seeking federal office resign before the election.

The 2008 law did include a provision for someone whose term is about to expire, but DeSantis would not qualify. The exemption allowed then-Gov. Rick Scott, who defeated incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson that year, to stay in office until DeSantis was sworn in.

Renner claimed that this demonstrated that state legislators had been “inconsistent” about the state’s resign-to-run law, which was one of the reasons he was willing to change it again.

That is also when the Florida Legislature, which now has a Republican supermajority in both chambers, would consider changes to state election law. In non-election years, Florida legislators routinely pass election law changes.

DeSantis has dismissed talk of a presidential run, including a potential clash with Trump, telling people to “chill out.” Trump’s support propelled DeSantis ahead of then-Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the 2018 Republican primary. Trump recently chastised DeSantis for playing games by failing to declare his presidential ambitions.

“He says, ‘I’m only focused on the governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future.’ Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer,” Trump said in a Nov. 10 statement and in a post on his social media platform Truth social.

A Trump-DeSantis showdown would likely divide Florida Republicans, with some, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, a member of DeSantis’s 2018 transition team, supporting Trump.

When asked to choose between Trump and DeSantis on Tuesday, a beaming Passidomo replied, “What?” When asked again, “Trump or DeSantis?” she replied, “what?” and then returned to her office.