Florida GOP set to remove hurdle to DeSantis White House bid

Changes coming to Florida’s resign to run law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waits for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as he pays a courtesy call to Kishida at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Monday, April 24, 2023. DeSantis is in Japan for a two-day visit. Japanese Foreign Ministry said that DeSantis's visit to Japan will be an opportunity to further strengthen relationship between Japan and Florida in broad areas including political and economic fields. (Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP) (Kimimasa Mayama)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Republicans are poised to change state law to allow GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president without having to leave office, according to legislation filed Tuesday.

The proposal would exempt presidential candidates from Florida's so-called resign to run law, which prohibits elected officials from qualifying as a candidate for another office that would overlap with their current term.

The legislative move was anticipated but its formal introduction marks one of the clearest signals yet that DeSantis plans to run. He is expected to announce after the state's legislative session ends in early May.

Republicans, who control a supermajority in the statehouse, have largely focused on the governor's conservative priorities during the current legislative session, approving bills that will likely form much of the governor's platform when he launches his White House bid.

The resign to run exemption was filed by a GOP ally of DeSantis as an amendment to a larger Republican election law package expected to reach the Senate floor this week. Republican leaders of the House and Senate have both expressed their willingness to change the law.

DeSantis is currently overseas as part of an international trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom. The governor in recent months has also ramped up his travel to U.S. battleground states for speeches and meetings with Republicans.

There is precedent for changing the Florida law to help clear a path for potential candidates for higher office. In 2007, the Republican-controlled Legislature changed the law to prevent problems for then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who was being considered as a possible running mate for Republican John McCain in 2008. Crist later became a Democrat and challenged DeSantis for reelection last year.

Only a handful of states have similar resign-to-run laws.