The law looming over some of this cycle’s big races

The law looming over some of this cycle’s big races


Are you an elected official who wants to run for another office? Depending on where you live, you might have to give up your current position.

That’s the case in a handful of states and municipalities across the country that have so-called resign-to-run laws. It’s not a common provision, but it is one that is looming over a number of elections this cycle.

The highest profile version of this law is in Florida, which has a resign-to-run law hanging over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ potential presidential bid. Although DeSantis has been hitting the trail in support of his new book (including early states Iowa and Nevada over the weekend), he’s indicated that he won’t make a decision until after the legislative session, which started last week and ends in May. One thing he’ll be watching: The Republican supermajority could pass legislation altering the state’s resign-to-run law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at an event.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at an event March 10, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. | Ron Johnson/AP Photo

Florida law requires that an officeholder running for another position must submit an irrevocable letter of resignation ahead of qualifying if the terms of the two offices overlap. The “resignation must be submitted at least 10 days before the first day of qualifying for the office he or she intends to seek,” and the resignation must take place before the new term begins.

DeSantis’ current term, which he overwhelmingly won in November, ends in 2027 — two years after a president would be sworn in.

“Resign to run laws can both be a deterrent to having some of the more successful people run, and can prevent voters from having the candidates that they would actually prefer,” said Michael Morley, an election law professor at Florida State University.

Both top Republicans in the state House and Senate have previously expressed support for altering the law to avoid a resignation. And there’s precedent for changing it in the Sunshine State — it was done when then-Gov. Charlie Crist was on the shortlist to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Restrictions on those running for federal office were added back in 2018 under then-Gov. Rick Scott.

Republican state Sen. Danny Burgess, the chair of the Ethics and Elections Committee in the Florida Senate, told POLITICO’s Gary Fineout that the “ability to clarify” the state’s resign-to-run law “may be something we address this year.” No such bills have been filed yet.

Even in the law’s current form, there is “arguably a little bit of ambiguity” on when it would apply, Morley said. One interpretation of “qualifying” could mean appearing on the ballot, while another interpretation could mean once the candidate is elected to the office — meaning one would have to resign only if they win.

Similar rules also create the possibility of turnover as candidates vie for seats in other states. Arizona state law, for instance, also requires elected officials to resign from their position in order to run for another local, state or federal office, unless it’s in the final year of their term. A number of local officials are mulling a run for Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego’s seat as he runs for Senate, including Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari, Councilmembers Laura Pastor and Betty Guardado, and state Sen. Raquel Terán.

And in one of the country’s largest cities, the Philadelphia City Council has also seen turnover as six of its members — around one-third of the council — resigned to launch bids to replace term-limited Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney later this year. The resign-to-run provision states that city officers or employees can’t “be a candidate for nomination or election to any public office unless he shall have first resigned.” There’s no state-level resign-to-run law in the Commonwealth.

“On the positive side, it has brought a bunch of fresh air into Council because most of these people who’ve resigned to run for mayor, … none of them would have lost this fall had they run for reelection,” said Neil Oxman, a Pennsylvania-based Democratic consultant.

It’s Monday. Send tips and feedback: [email protected] and @madfernandez616.

Days until the Wisconsin Supreme Court election and Chicago mayoral runoff: 22

Days until the Kentucky primary: 64

Days until the Mississippi primary: 148

Days until the Louisiana primary: 215

Days until the 2023 election: 239

Days until the 2024 election: 603

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2024 WATCH — Behind-the-scenes maneuvering by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer helped quell fears of a messy fight over succeeding Stabenow in a must-win battleground state, POLITICO’s Nicholas Wu and Burgess Everett report. Stabenow said she directed other ambitious Democrats to alternative statewide offices that will open up in the coming years, and Schumer conveyed that Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich), who announced her bid for the seat, was well-funded and forcing her to spend big in a contested primary would hurt the party.

… Pennsylvania Republican Dave McCormick, who lost a Senate bid last year, plans to focus on rolling out his new book and will “think more about another campaign ‘later this year,’ but acknowledged, ‘I’ve had lots of encouragement,’” per The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari.

… Democratic Alameda Vice Mayor Tony Daysog filed to run for CA-12, which is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee as she runs for Senate.

THE BATTLEGROUND — The NRCC is targeting 37 Democratic seats heading into 2024, POLITICO’s Brittany Gibson scoops. The list includes 35 incumbents and two open seats that are currently held by Slotkin and Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Several of the targets include members who won last cycle with less than 1 percentage point.

… DCCC named 29 representatives to its 2024 Frontline program, which provides resources to vulnerable House Democrats. “Democrats will have great offensive opportunities in 2024, and holding onto these seats is key to our path to reclaiming the majority,” DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

ON THE BALLOT — No Labels, a centrist group that’s laying the groundwork for a unity ticket presidential campaign in 2024, has qualified for the ballot in Oregon, The Oregonian’s Betsy Hammond reports. The group qualified for the ballot in Arizona last week and Colorado in January.

IN THE STATES — Former state Rep. Dave Williams was chosen as new head of the Colorado GOP, per The Colorado Sun’s Sandra Fish. Williams, who has denied the results of the 2020 election, is the latest election denier to be elected to a state GOP post, along with Kristina Karamo in Michigan and Mike Brown of Kansas.

Presidential Big Board

— It wasn’t long ago that many Republicans believed the party might finally be ready to move past former President Donald Trump. But recent developments have kept the party fixated on him, POLITICO’s David Siders reports. Fox News has spent days reliving the Jan. 6 riot, and the possibility of a Trump indictment in New York portends an early primary season spent relitigating his record.

— Former Vice President Mike Pence slammed Trump over the weekend at the Gridiron dinner, where he said that “history will hold Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6.” Read more from my Playbook colleagues.

— Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “has privately started pitching potential 2024 GOP hopefuls and surveying their campaign operations, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem,” CNN’s Alayna Treene writes. (Lewandowski denied taking such steps.) “CNN contacted eight former Trump campaign officials, in addition to Lewandowski, who remained in Trump’s inner circle throughout his presidency and were public fixtures in the media. Only three publicly plan to support his 2024 bid. Another two indicated their desire to remain neutral in the primary, and the other three refused to weigh in publicly or did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.”

— “As the dust settles on [Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s] second session working with Virginia’s politically divided General Assembly, the former private equity executive has earned a series of wins, including measures taking a tougher stance against China, that his allies say could help him in a possible White House race,” the AP’s Sarah Rankin and Michelle L. Price report.


— Trump is viewed favorably by 80 percent of Iowa Republicans and unfavorably by 18 percent, per a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. DeSantis has a 74 percent favorability among the group, with 6 percent unfavorable. Pence is viewed favorably by 66 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent. Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has 53 percent favorability and 8 percent unfavorability. (257 self-identified Iowa Republicans, March 5-8, MoE +/- 6.1 percentage points.)


— Republican Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft is hitting primary challenger and state Attorney General Daniel Cameron in a spot about coal-fired power plants. Craft is still the only candidate on air.

— Former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, one of the two Democrats in the running for mayor of Chicago, featured former President Bill Clinton in a campaign ad. A Clinton representative told POLITICO’s Chris Cadelago that the former president didn’t approve of the ad and was not planning to endorse in the race. (If you’re keeping track, earlier this year former first lady Michelle Obama’s office disapproved of her being featured in an ad from Democratic candidate for Philadelphia Mayor Jeff Brown.)

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— Marshall Cohen is a partner at KMM Strategies and will be opening its first D.C. office. He most recently was political director at the Democratic Governors Association.

CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “If Mike Pence would just be himself, and not script everything so much, instead of 7 percent in the polls, he’d be at 20 percent right now.” (Former Republican Indiana state Rep. Mike Murphy)

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