TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA —- A 98-page election reform bill hit the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, containing a new, controversial amendment leading to worries of dereliction of duty and claims of a weakened position for the governor.
SB 7050 revamps Florida elections in the name of voter transparency. It imposes greater restrictions on third party voter registration organizations and vote-by-mail eligibility.
But its most contentious point is an amendment filed by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast): the removal of “resign-to-run” for those running for President or Vice President of the United States.
“If you’re running for a higher office, I think you should ‘window shop’ and be safe with your seat,” Hutson said. “If for some reason the governor is not going to win the presidency, I think he’s done a great job as our governor and I think he should stay here as our governor.”
“A RESIGN-TO-RUN IS DESIGNED TO LOSE”
Democrats worried that Florida – a state of 23 million people – will suffer if Governor DeSantis remains in his seat as he campaigns, fearing that a divided focus causes Floridian issues to take a backseat.
“Providing an avenue for the governor to run for president – to be away from his office like he is now – for a year and a half, running around this entire, huge country, is not the right decision of this legislature,” Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) said. “We are basically saying dereliction of duty is okay.”
The opposition was rounded out by Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Hollywood), who argued this amendment would actually lend ammunition to former President Donald Trump:
“This is probably the line you’re going to hear from the former president: you filed a resign-to-run, which is designed to lose. The governor is going to lose, and you just gave him a soft landing to come back.”
“GREAT FOR OUR STATE”
When asked in a press gaggle about the resign-to-run amendment, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) explained that though she believes it is unnecessary due to current statute, it is simply for clarification purposes.
“It is absolutely not necessary. But Senator Hutson came to me and said, ‘why don’t I just confirm what we all know; that he or she – whoever the governor is – does not have to resign to run.’ And that’s it.”
She continued, stating that the main focal point should be the benefits to be reaped from a Floridian president. “As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter who it is. If somebody from Florida runs for president and wins, it’s really going to be great for all of us. It doesn’t matter, It could be any party. It would be great for all of us and our state.”
After a lengthy debate, the amendment was adopted into the bill and subsequently passed down party lines. If approved by the House in identical form, it will go to the governor to become law.