Q&A of the Day – How Many States Have Resign-To-Run Laws?

Q&A of the Day – How Many States Have Resign-To-Run Laws? 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.   

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Social: @brianmuddradio 

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.    

Today’s Entry: Submitted via talkback inquiring about how many states have resign-to-run laws like Florida does. 

Bottom Line: On Tuesday, the proposed amendment many in news media reporting had waited for finally arrived. The amendment to Florida’s Elections bill which would clear the path for Governor DeSantis to make a presidential run without first having to tender his resignation as governor. For many in the press the development has been long anticipated because it would mean a) Desantis is likely going to announce he’s running for president b) It’s an opportunity to attempt to produce stories framing Governor DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature as opportunists who care more about political ambition than Floridians. This is why I’ve said right along that the proposal would come at the end of the session at about the time the budget details are being debated...and here we are. But to the implied point of today’s question. How many states even have a resign-to-law in the first place? The answer is not many. 

First, here’s a refresh as to what Florida’s law currently says:  

a) No officer may qualify as a candidate for another state, district, county, or municipal public office if the terms or any part thereof run concurrently with each other without resigning from the office he or she presently holds.   

(b) The resignation is irrevocable.   

(c) The written resignation must be submitted at least 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for the office he or she intends to seek.  

(d) The resignation must be effective no later than the earlier of the following dates:  

1. The date the officer would take office, if elected; or  

2. The date the officer’s successor is required to take office. 

Thus, without changes, win or lose, Governor DeSantis would have to submit his resignation ten days before filing federal paperwork and would no longer be Florida’s governor as of January 20th, 2025 – nearly two full years prior to his 2nd term would come to a close. As for what the newly proposed amendment states: 

The amendments made to Florida Statutes, by this act are intended to clarify existing law. Any person seeking the office of President or Vice President of the United States is not subject to the requirements of chapter 99, Florida Statutes, which govern candidate qualifying, specifically those which require the submission of certain documents, full and public disclosures of financial interests, petition signatures, or the payment of filing fees. This section shall take effect upon this act becoming a law. 

So back to where today’s Q&A began. Currently Florida is one of only five states to mandate elected office holders resign from their office, under certain circumstances, in order to run for another. The other four are Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas. So yes, in the context of principle, that’s a fact which is commonly and conveniently omitted from the conversation. Should Florida vote to amend the current law to clear the path for DeSantis to run as is likely, the legislature and the governor would in effect be doing what is already legal in 45 other states. In that context perhaps the biggest question of all isn’t whether it’s appropriate to amend the law in order to enable DeSantis to run for president, or vice-president perhaps, but whether we should have the law at all and should perhaps repeal the whole thing?  

Florida has tweaked the state’s “Resign-to-Run" law twice over the previous 15 years preceding the current effort. And in fact, should the legislature make changes again this year it won’t even be the first time the legislature has paid deference to a governor’s potential future political ambitions. In 2007, when then Governor Charlie Crist, was known to have been a potential running mate for 2008 Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, the state tweaked the law to allow for Crist to accept that invitation (which never came) without resigning. Interestingly there wasn’t the same level of attention or consternation at that time about that effort back then. As for Florida’s current law, it’s only been in force for two election cycles. In 2018 then Governor Rick Scott, signed the current incarnation of the state’s resign-to-run law, into law. But yes, should the legislature pass this amendment as proposed and should Governor DeSantis sign it into law, the volume of discontent on this issue is likely to grow louder by those in news media and politics already opposed to Governor DeSantis. And likely without the context I just provided.  

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