Florida Bill to Force State and Local Office-Holders to Resign if they Run for Federal Office

Even though the Florida legislature doesn’t convene until January 9, 2018, Florida legislative committees are already working on 2018 bills. On October 11, SB 45 passed the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. It says that elected state and local officials who want to run for federal office must first resign their state or local position. See this story. The bill is sponsored by Senator Travis Hutson (R-Elkton).

Such “resign-to-run” laws have generally been upheld by courts. They do not run afoul of the principle that states can’t add to the qualifications to run for federal office, because they don’t block anyone from running for Congress. But, they do force potential federal candidates to take an action that they would probably rather not do.


Florida Bill to Force State and Local Office-Holders to Resign if they Run for Federal Office — 2 Comments

  1. It is interesting that this is just restoring the law to how it used to be before 2007. The proposed bill really does not say that certain officials must resign in order to run for Congress, but eliminates an exception that had been added.

    Arguably, someone who is running for another office in the middle of their current term is violating their oath of office, which implicitly to serve the full term.

    A relevant SCOTUS decision is ‘Clement v Fashing’ (1982), a 5-4 decision which overturned a federal district court decision, which had been affirmed by the 5th Circuit.

    There were equal protection aspects to that Texas law, since the resign-to-run law only applied to certain positions. The constitution and statutory provisions were added when Texas switched from two to four year terms for county and judicial offices, and the terms of different offices are staggered.

    For example, two of four county commissioners have terms that run coincident with the county judge, while other two commissioners run in the alternate years. If two of the commissioners seek to promote to county judge, they would be at the of their terms. But the other commissioners would have to resign two years into their term, or lay out for two years.

    The Texas provision said that if one sought another office with more than one year remaining on their term, they had to resign. The filing deadline was set at January 3, to permit candidates to file for a different office with a coincident term. Ordinary office seekers could file in December, while those whose filing would trigger resignation would wait until early January.

    In 2011, when the filing deadline was moved into December (so as to permit ballots to be sent overseas 45 days before the March primary), the Constitution had to be modified to permit a filing one year and 30 days before the start of the term.

    Some of the deadlines related to minor parties were not initially moved (the fundamental principle in Texas with regard to laws for minor parties is, “Oh! We forgot about them”. This is the reason why candidates for minor party nomination must file with party officials in December, but the party officials have until December to announce that the party is going to make nominations.

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