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Florida GOP files proposal to clear the way for a DeSantis 2024 bid

The amendment would clarify that the state's resign-to-run law does not apply to people running for president.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Midland, Mich., on April 6, 2023.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Midland, Mich., on April 6.Chris duMond / Getty Images file

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis still has not said whether he is running for president in 2024, but the GOP-dominated state Legislature is not taking any chances.

A Republican state senator on Tuesday filed an amendment to a much larger election overhaul bill that would help clear the way for DeSantis to launch a campaign, exempting anyone running for president or vice president from the state’s resign-to-run law.

The amendment, filed by state Sen. Travis Hutson, would "clarify existing law" that someone running for president or vice president would not be hamstrung by state rules that generally stipulate an elected official has to resign their state office in order to run for federal office.

“I am a bit biased because I think Gov. DeSantis has done such a good job, so I just want to make clear that if he is not the Republican nominee [for president] he can be back,” Hutson told NBC News.

The amendment will be considered by the full Florida Senate during a Wednesday floor session, but it is widely expected to gain approval from both chambers of the state’s Legislature. 

DeSantis has long been believed to be eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, rumors that have only been amplified by the creations of a pro-DeSantis super PAC that quickly raised $30 million, and the governor holding events in early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina.

There have, however, been lingering questions about whether the state’s resign-to-run law would hamper his national ascent. Before the March start of Florida’s 2023 legislative session, GOP leaders said they planned on clarifying the law so that DeSantis could run for president if he wanted to, but with just two weeks left in that session, language making the tweak had not yet been put in play.

That changed Tuesday when Hutson filed his amendment to SB 7050, a wide-ranging election bill that, among other things, would allow political entities to file campaign finance reports less frequently, increase the frequency in which local supervisors of elections must remove dead or ineligible voters from voter rolls, and boosts fines on groups that register voters in violation of state law.

DeSantis’ office did not return a request seeking comment.

There has been debate over whether state law needed to change in order for DeSantis to make a 2024 bid for the White House, but Hutson said it was important to make sure there was clarity.

“There should be no question,” he said.

The political team of former President Donald Trump, who has already declared his 2024 candidacy, has made an issue out of the the resign-to-run fight. In March, a pro-Trump super PAC called MAGA Inc. filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics alleging that events for DeSantis’ national book tour at times resembled political rallies, and it equated the push to him running for president without formally declaring — which they argued was a violation of Florida’s resign to run law.

MAGA Inc. alleged DeSantis’ book tour was a “shadow” presidential campaign. So far the commission has not considered the complaint or taken any formal action.