Q&A – Could DeSantis or Rubio Become Donald Trump’s Running Mate?

Q&A of the Day – Could DeSantis or Rubio Become Donald Trump’s Running Mate?  

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 asking about a potential Trump and DeSantis ticket.   

Bottom Line: It’s been just over a year since I first addressed this topic, in fact DeSantis had yet to officially announce his presidential bid. A lot has obviously changed since then. A bitter primary battle between DeSantis and Trump (that abruptly ended when actual votes were cast). DeSantis saying in February, after he’d dropped out of the presidential race, that he had no interest in running for Vice President and Florida’s Senior Senator Marco Rubio also coming up frequently as a potential VP pick recently. That’s a dynamic Rubio hasn’t shot down. When Rubio’s been asked about the prospect he said: (It) Would be a unique place to serve the country from. While only Donald Trump knows what he’s thinking and who he’s leaning towards (if anyone at this point), it’s actually Rubio rather than DeSantis that would be the more likely Floridian to join Trump on the ticket between the two. That’s why his name continues to come up while DeSantis’ doesn’t. And there’s one very substantive reason for this beyond other factors... 

It’s logical that a party’s voters would want their top two preferred candidates to run together – especially as a Floridian when the top two were Trump and DeSantis. With that said it’s a rare event. In fact, it hasn’t happened in either party since Ronald Reagan picked George H.W. Bush as his running mate in 1980 (and even that one almost didn’t happen – historical accounts show Reagan’s top choice was former President Gerald Ford, however as a former president Ford wanted more influence in decision making than Reagan was comfortable with). With history as a guide, it was always unlikely that we would eventually see a Trump – DeSantis ticket. And that’s before addressing the biggest issue of all. The constitutional question about whether that ticket could happen (or one with Rubio) with both being Floridians.  

The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in the United States Constitution preventing the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate running from the same state. What there is, is an Electoral College provision which raises constitutional questions and a big potential issue.   

Article II to the Constitution reads like this specific to the provision in question:   

That Amendment to Article II was adopted in 1804. There’s one especially important change to Presidential elections since that era. From the onset of our country’s history through that era, you didn’t have presidential tickets. You only had candidates who ran for president. While a state’s voters, voted their intent for a president, they didn’t vote on a vice-president. A state’s electors were the ones who exclusively voted for a vice-president. The popularization of “tickets” and “running mates”, didn’t fully take shape until much later in the 19th century with the formation of party primaries as we understand them today (1890 was the first election conducted as we conduct them today). The reason that context matters, is that in the event there were to be a legal challenge to an election on these grounds, the intent of the constitutional law would be examined. With the law having been established at a time in which voters weren’t expressing their intent, only the electors voting on their behalf, it’s possible – that any legal challenges on these grounds would be rejected. In fact, in modern political history, it essentially already has been challenged and it just so happened to involve an election which focused for weeks on Florida.   

While everyone who voted in 2000 will forever remember the Florida 2000 legal challenges, there was another legal challenge preceding the legal wrangling over the pregnant, hanging and dimpled chads in Palm Beach County. The Texas challenge. Once it was determined that any one state would determine the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, Democrats employed this legal strategy. Dick Cheney lived in the same state as George W. Bush – Texas. Out of consideration for this issue he re-registered to vote in Wyoming – where he had a vacation home claiming that as his legal residence. Democrats argued Texas’ 32 electoral college delegates couldn’t legally vote for the Bush-Cheney ticket because Cheney hadn’t established a full-time residence in Wyoming. The federal court system refused to hear the case (accepting that if Cheney was able to vote in Wyoming that it qualified as his residence) and the suit was thrown out without a hearing.  

It’s a given that any related effort in a close presidential win by a Trump-DeSantis or Rubio ticket would result in a similar outcome. But let’s say, just for drill, the courts were to rule the other way. What could happen then?   

  • They win by a margin larger than Florida’s 30 Electoral College votes and it’s a moot point  
  • The electors vote for president but not vice-president. Recall that the constitutional provision in question states that the electors may not vote for two candidates from the same state. In this scenario, in a close election, if a presidential candidate had the necessary vote to become president but the vice-president didn’t, the senate would select the VP.   
  • Governor DeSantis calls a special session to allow electors from outside of Florida into the state to cast the votes on Florida’s behalf. There’s nothing in the US Constitution which stipulates that the electors a state chooses must come from within their state  

Now, if it came down to either of the two theoretical outcomes, I just mentioned that have yet to be legally tested, you can rest assured there would be additional legal challenges to the outcome of the election. So, the fact of the matter is that Trump and DeSantis or Rubio could be running mates and could be elected together from Florida but that any election win by 30 or fewer Electoral College votes would present constitutional challenges to the election result that would bring additional risk into the process by allowing courts to decide the outcome of the case(s) and thus the election.  

One suggestion many have made is for Donald Trump to relocate back to New York as his permanent resident once again. There is zero chance of that happening. We’ve all seen what they’re doing to him in the legal system up there. Aside from the considerable tax considerations in play for remaining a full-time Florida resident, there are the legal considerations as well. Ultimately, it’s unlikely team-Trump wants the potential extra headaches and risk that could come with having two Floridians on the ticket. DeSantis, as governor of Florida certainly isn’t going to suddenly relocate outside of the state. But there has been an inference that perhaps Marco Rubio would. It’s hard to imagine that the Miami native, born and raised, would relocate elsewhere – however if he were to claim a primary residence near Washington D.C. where he spends much of his time as a Senator, and register to vote there a la Cheney in 2000, that would potentially do the trick. That’s why if any Floridian is to join Trump on the ticket Rubio would be the more likely of the two.  

I understand why many want this to happen with either DeSantis or Rubio. I’d also be surprised if it did happen with either one of them – especially in the case of DeSantis.  

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