Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears very close to announcing his long-rumored presidential candidacy, challenging former President Donald Trump and others for the 2024 Republican nomination.
But news outlets quoting anonymous tipsters—promising a planned May 25 filing in Miami of required federal campaign documents—shouldn’t be trusted, a source close to DeSantis told The Epoch Times.
And a high-ranking Florida government official, who also asked not to be identified, told The Epoch Times that varying information about DeSantis’s announcement has swirled through the Capitol in Tallahassee. A possible announcement in Miami, maybe at the Four Seasons Hotel, has been suggested as the expected location, the official said.
DeSantis has indicated he wouldn’t announce a presidential bid until after the end of the state’s annual two-month legislative session. While the session officially ended on May 5, lawmakers still are presenting newly passed bills to his office.
One that still hasn’t made it to his desk is SB 7050, a lengthy elections bill that, in one small part, clarifies that the governor would not have to resign in order to run for president.
And DeSantis has indicated he’d need to sign the state budget before announcing a presidential campaign.
Closely Guarded Secret
Though the real details about DeSantis’s plans certainly are known by some lawmakers, they seem part of a closely guarded secret, said the state official, who expressed hope of being invited to the festivities.
Still, news outlets around the country have reported in a frenzy—quoting anonymous sources and each other—that DeSantis will file the required candidate paperwork just before or after a May 25 meeting with big-money donors in Miami. Some have suggested a Miami announcement will follow.
“Of course, the details are attributed to unnamed sources (the Governor’s favorite), but there’s far too much smoke to write this off as a ‘people are saying’ situation,” Florida blogger Peter Schorsch wrote on May 19 in his daily round-up of political happenings around the state.
Other news outlets have reported that DeSantis will formally kick off the campaign on May 29 in his Tampa Bay-area hometown of Dunedin.
When DeSantis visits the area, a nurse sneaks him through a back door at a nearby independent living facility so he can spend time with his mother without creating a ruckus, a source in the coastal town told The Epoch Times.
More Evidence an Announcement is Near
Moving trucks pulled up to the Florida Republican headquarters on May 15 to move DeSantis’s political operation from there to its own quarters.
On the same day, Bryan Griffin, who’d been serving as the spokesman for the Governor’s Press Office, left his post with the state to become the spokesman for the DeSantis “political operation.”
“I believe that Governor DeSantis is the only leader who can see us to victory at this critical moment in American history,” Griffin said in his resignation letter. “If I can be even a small part of the revival and restoration of our great nation, then I am prepared to give it my all.”
And the political team has been busy announcing other victories that make sense only in the context of an active political campaign.
In Iowa, the site of the first Republican caucus, DeSantis was endorsed by 37 Republican legislators, more than a third of them. And that’s more than any Republican presidential candidate received in the state in 2016.
The Never Back Down PAC announced the endorsements on May 12, the day before DeSantis visited the state.
In New Hampshire, the site of the first primary, Never Back Down announced on May 16 that 51 Republican legislators had endorsed him.
Trump made headlines this spring with rising poll numbers against DeSantis and endorsements from 11 of the 19 Republican congressional representatives in Florida.
But since then, 99 of 113 Republican legislators have endorsed DeSantis for president, including leaders of both chambers, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
DeSantis cooperated closely with Renner and Passidomo as they shepherded dozens of bills representing his priorities through the state’s annual legislative session.
“We did two years of legislation in one year,” Speaker Pro Tempore Chuck Clemons, the second-ranking Republican in the state House, told The Epoch Times.
DeSantis has kept a torrid pace of public appearances, press conferences, and bill signings. He’s also shoehorned in travels around the country on a tour promoting his recently published “The Courage To Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival.”
Some, including Trump, have complained the book tour has been a thinly veiled stand-in for a presidential campaign.
His travels have extended overseas, as well.
In April, DeSantis built his international profile, traveling with his wife to Israel, the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea to discuss trade and make speeches.
The likeliest hold-up for any official announcement of a presidential campaign may be the elections bill SB 7050. It has not yet been transmitted by the Senate to DeSantis for signing.
“The bill will be sent in the coming weeks, along with other bills,” an aide to Passidomo told The Epoch Times in an email.
After bills pass successfully through the state House and Senate, they must be signed and sent to the governor by the leaders of those chambers.
Once it lands on DeSantis’s desk, because the legislative session officially is over, he’ll have 15 days to take action.
If he doesn’t sign it or veto it, it will go into law.
The bill bears on DeSantis’s candidacy. It’s a “clarification” of Florida’s election law, which currently requires some sitting officials to resign their offices when they run for another office.
The current law requires resignation when the elected official “qualifies” as a candidate for another office. Qualification involves filling out paperwork and other tasks to make candidacy official, an aide to Renner told The Epoch Times.
Under the current law, resignation isn’t effective until the new office’s term begins, but it is irrevocable.
The new bill passed by the Florida House and Senate removes the resignation requirement.
Renner has said publicly he doesn’t think the current law’s wording requires a state official running for president to resign.
And running for president doesn’t involve the same qualification process as candidacy for a state or local office, such as filing paperwork at the local courthouse, Renner’s aide said.
But lawmakers added what Renner has called a “clarification” to the bill—a line that clearly exempts candidates for president or vice-president from the resign-to-run requirement.
It was a tweak made to avoid court challenges, Clemons said.
DeSantis has held numerous signing ceremonies in recent days, some for five or six related bills simultaneously. On May 16, 62 bills landed on his desk. The next day, he signed 21 in the stack.
It’s unclear when he’ll get a crack at the one that clears his path to announce his candidacy for president.
DeSantis won a resounding reelection victory barely six months ago, defeating Charlie Crist, a former Democrat congressman who’d previously served as a Republican governor of the state. DeSantis beat Crist by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.
If DeSantis were to become president, he would be vacating his post as Florida’s governor with two years left in his second term. Under Florida law, Lt. Gov Jeanette Nunez would be tapped to serve the remaining two years.
From The Epoch Times