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Can DeSantis Run for President and Be Governor at the Same Time? Change to Florida Law Says Yes

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his long-awaited 2024 presidential run official during an event with Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday.

But the Republican governor needed a little help from the Florida legislature earlier this year to allow him to run for president without having to leave office.

Florida’s so-called resign-to-run law prohibits elected officials from qualifying as a candidate for another office that would overlap with their current term.

But an exemption to the law was filed by a Republican state senator and DeSantis ally in anticipation of the governor’s run.

“What I wanted to do, because everybody has been talking about it, I just wanted to clarify it for everyone that’s out there. So, that’s what the amendment does. It says if you are running for president or vice president, you do not need to resign,” said Sen. Travis Hutson, from St. Augustine.

The exemption was easily passed by Republicans, who control a supermajority in the statehouse, despite objections from some Democrats, who said it was giving DeSantis special treatment.

“Folks, I don’t think that the governor should be able to be politically married but continue to date,” said Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo of Hollywood.

The amendment was part of a larger election law package signed into law by DeSantis.

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 unsuccessfully challenged DeSantis for reelection last year.

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

It’s unknown how DeSantis plans to handle his governor duties while running for president, though he’s hardly the first to tackle both at the same time. Most recently, Republican George W. Bush ran and won the presidency while governor of Texas, while Democrat Bill Clinton did the same while serving as governor of Arkansas.

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