Politics

They have to resign if they want to run for Congress. What are they waiting for?

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell says he’ll resign his post to run for Congress.
Miami Commissioner Ken Russell says he’ll resign his post to run for Congress.

Florida Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and Miami Commissioner Ken Russell say they’ll resign their elected positions this month in order to run for a Miami congressional seat under the new terms of Florida law.

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez has said she’ll sue the state to avoid having to do the same.

But it’s one thing to say you’ll do something. It’s another to actually do it. And so far, despite having months to plan, none of the Democrats who are on the clock in Miami’s District 27 congressional race have made good yet on their commitments to comply with Florida’s new resign-to-run law.

So what’s taking so long?

“I’m currently finalizing the effective date and plan to submit paperwork prior to the deadline,” texted Russell, who’ll have to forgo at least the final year on his city commission term in order to seek the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The new law signed Friday by Gov. Rick Scott requires that politicians holding local and state elected office resign their posts to run for higher office in instances where the terms overlap. Resignations are due 10 days before the start of qualifying, which for congressional candidates is April 30.

But the law also allows candidates to post-date their resignations months down the road. So, while they have little to lose by waiting, candidates also have little to lose by turning in their resignations now, unless they’re still surveying the field.

Speculation has lingered for months that some elected officials in the race might back out rather than resign. The recent entry into the race of former University of Miami president Donna Shalala — who just raised $1.1 million in three weeks — has also furthered rumors that drop-outs or transfers to other congressional races are likely.

The lone Republican affected by the new law, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, submitted his resignation Saturday. He said he wanted to put to bed rumors that he might bow out — although his immediate resignation also helped ensure the scheduling of a lightning-quick special county election that should benefit his wife as she seeks to serve out the remainder of his term.

So far, none of the Democrats put on the spot have had much to say on when they’ll make their decision official.

Rodríguez, who still has more than two years remaining in his term in the state Senate seat, said he’s “focused on a winning campaign” and not “playing games.”

“Our campaign is prepared to file all required paperwork at the period of qualifying and, before that, my resignation letter in accordance with the new law,” he said in a statement.

Russell insisted his campaign “is going very well.” Meanwhile, Rosen Gonzalez, who told the Miami Herald in January that she’d sue the state if they passed the law, has not filed a resignation or a lawsuit. She declined to answer any questions about her plans.

“I will call you when I have something to report,” she texted. “When I have something to report I will call you.”

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