Florida Senate President Denies Draft Elections Bill Will Greenlight DeSantis’ Presidential Run
Mary Lou Masters on March 31, 2023
The Florida Senate President said the draft elections shell bill filed Thursday won’t include the resign-to-run law that could stand in the way of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential run.
Senate proposed Bill 7050, filed by the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, will “revise bills relating to elections,” and Florida’s resign-to-run law might require the governor to resign from office before he can run for president. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said in a press conference Thursday evening that the bill won’t address that law, and that she’s still mulling it over.
“No, I don’t think so,” Passidomo said when asked if the draft shell bill will pertain to the resign-to-run law. “We’re still researching whether or not we really need it.”
Passidomo did not address specifically what would be included in the bill that is to be filed Monday, but did note it will be “robust.” Katherine Betta, spokesperson for Passidomo, told the DCNF the bill will contain “a variety of tweaks” that come from recommendations made by the governor, the supervisors of elections and from the results of a mail-in ballot report.
However, a longtime Tallahassee Republican lobbyist with knowledge of the Legislature’s plans believes this will be the vehicle to amend the law and clear the path for a DeSantis campaign.
“This is likely going to be the vehicle to fix the resign-to-run law for Gov. DeSantis to run for president,” a longtime Tallahassee Republican lobbyist with knowledge of the Legislature’s plans told the DCNF. “I’ve talked to legislators about them wanting to fix it and going to fix it, and this is how it happens.”
This shell bill, that would go into effect on July 1, is an open piece of legislation that members can add in language to later on, and the lobbyist is “confident” that it will likely serve as the vehicle to remove the barriers for DeSantis to run for president. The lobbyist believes this is the only piece of legislation filed this session that has the ability to correct the resign-to-run law, ahead of when many expect a DeSantis campaign launch.
“I don’t know what else it could be,” the lobbyist told the DCNF when asked about Passidomo’s comments. “I have not heard of any other major elections initiatives that they’re going to do this session that would require them to do a proposed committee bill right now.”
Florida’s resign-to-run law would require DeSantis to resign from office before “qualifying” for a presidential run, but the law does not explicitly define what “qualifying” means. Several Florida political experts previously told the DCNF that the Legislature must amend the law to clarify what qualifies an office-holder for president.
Even if the bill doesn’t initially include language that refers to the resign-to-run law, members can still add in amendments to the shell bill later that addresses it, the lobbyist said. When asked about this, Betta replied “I mean, that [adding amendments] would be for any bill.”
If the law is not changed, the question is whether DeSantis would qualify for office when he announces his candidacy, when he becomes the Republican nominee or when he takes the oath of office.
“When is a person qualified, under Florida law, to be president of the United States?” Jaime Miller, former executive director of the Florida Republican Party, previously told the DCNF. “I think they will do it this session because there is a timeliness issue.”
Florida’s legislative session began on March 7 and will conclude on May 5.
DeSantis’ political team did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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