It’s (Almost) Official: Ron DeSantis Will Run for Present. What Now?

Joe Duncan

With DeSantis hinting at a presidential run, what does that mean for us Floridians?
Ron DeSantis by Gage SkidmorePhoto byGage Skidmore

As the 2024 US Presidential Election looms on the horizon, speculation has been rife about which candidates will run for the Republican Party. One name that has been repeatedly mentioned is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. However, despite the rumors, DeSantis has yet to officially announce his candidacy for the presidency.

DeSantis, a former US Congressman, has been governor of Florida since 2019. He has gained national attention for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in his state, which has been a polarizing issue. While some have praised his approach of keeping Florida open for business, others have criticized him for prioritizing the economy over public health. DeSantis has also made headlines for signing controversial bills into law, such as the state's new voting restrictions and anti-protest law.

He's even asking for his own military now (again).

Despite (and probably because of ) the controversies, DeSantis has gained a significant following among conservatives. The guy seriously has a lot of Republican support behind him.

That support carries serious momentum.

DeSantis has even trumped Trump in several polls since the 2020 election.

Why the Silence?

DeSantis was once endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who has recanted his support in the last few days now that it’s clear the two men are rivals. Trump (obviously) remains a major force in the Republican Party. Trump has reportedly urged DeSantis to run for president, and many see DeSantis as a potential successor to Trump's brand of politics.

DeSantis has remained tactfully tight-lipped about his presidential ambitions. In a recent interview with Fox News, he stated that his focus is on governing Florida, and that he has not made a decision about running for president. He also said that he does not feel any pressure to make a decision at this time.

An insider from DeSantis' team told the media that the Governor said privately that he does intend to run for president.

DeSantis' reluctance to announce his candidacy may be a strategic move. By delaying his announcement, he can continue to build his profile and support base, while avoiding the scrutiny and attacks that come with being a front-runner. It also allows him to focus on his duties as governor, without the distraction of a presidential campaign.

And, if things go wrong for the Governor, he can always say he never intended to run in the first place.

But, there are risks to delaying his announcement. Other potential candidates, such as former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott, have already begun to position themselves for a presidential run. If DeSantis waits too long to announce his candidacy, he may lose the momentum and support he has already gained.

But all of this leaves America—and especially Florida—with some serious questions about what happens if DeSantis does decide he wants to run for president.

If DeSantis Runs

As speculation continues to mount about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' potential run for the presidency in 2024, questions have arisen about whether he would have to resign as governor if he were to win the election. While there is no clear answer to this question, there are several options available that could allow DeSantis to continue serving as governor while also campaigning for the presidency.

One option would be for DeSantis to take a leave of absence from his duties as governor. Under Florida law, the governor has the power to appoint a lieutenant governor to act as governor in their absence. If DeSantis were to take a leave of absence to campaign for the presidency, he could appoint a trusted advisor or political ally to serve as lieutenant governor in his place.

However, if he does this, he couldn’t announce it. He’d have to be hush about it until he’s ready to resign as Governor—once he believes he can win. But it’s doubtful our Governor would ever have such a lead against former-President Trump, a formidable foe in the Republican Party standing in the way of whatever presidential hopes DeSantis may be harboring.

Frankly, the best chance DeSantis has is keeping things low-key while hoping that Trump gets indicted for hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels.

Florida law, as it currently stands, requires that anyone running for office resign their current post before they run in another race. This law was signed by Rick Scott in 2018 and it still stands today.

Another option would be for DeSantis to resign as governor and run for president full-time. While this would be a more straightforward approach, it would also mean giving up his position as governor and potentially losing the support of his constituents in Florida.

This would be the legal method of doing things (and the traditional method).

If DeSantis tried the former, it’s possible there could be legal ramifications, so long as the “resign to run” law is in place. But, the Republican-led legislature here in Florida is currently discussing doing away with the “resign to run” law, or at least carving out an exception in the law for DeSantis personally.

Right, because nothing says “law is sacred” quite like changing it so our favorite politicians can be above it, huh?

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*Photo by Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America - Ron DeSantis, CC BY-SA 2.0

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