Florida politicians hoping a difficult decision would be made easier by a Miami lawsuit challenging the state's new resign-to-run law would not get their wish.
While an attorney representing Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said she still intends to pursue her bid to block the law, a decision on the case won't be made Friday — which under law is the deadline to submit a resignation to the state.
"We're going to continue litigating," said attorney Rick Yabor. "We'll take our chances."
Florida's newly amended resign-to-run law was changed this year to force politicians holding local and state seats to resign if they want to run for a higher office with a term that overlaps their current position. Though a resignation can be made effective on election day, the law requires that anyone affected by the legislation file their resignation paperwork 10 days before the start of the qualifying period to run for Congress, which begins April 30 at noon.
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Any local or state politician who qualifies to run for federal office and has not resigned their current seat would be automatically removed, according to the law. Rosen Gonzalez, who is seeking to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress, has argued that the law is unconstitutional.
With several members of Congress choosing not to seek reelection, the lawsuit had broader implications beyond South Florida. Dennis Ross, Ron DeSantis, and Tom Rooney are leaving the U.S. House of Representatives, giving elected officials in local and state positions a shot to move into Congress. Two Miami politicians seeking to replace Ros-Lehtinen have already chosen to keep their seats rather than resign.
Outside South Florida, state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, said he submitted his resignation Thursday and made it effective on the date of the November election, so Rosen Gonzalez's suit was irrelevant to him as he pursues Rooney's seat. But St. Johns County Commissioner Jimmy Johns, who's been running for DeSantis' seat in Congress, said he was looking for information Friday on the lawsuit.
"Do you have an update?" he texted. "How is today's deadline impacted by the lawsuit?"
Johns withdrew from the race later in the day, according to Florida Politics.
Attempts to immediately reach Rosen Gonzalez, who was in Israel this week, were unsuccessful. On Tuesday, a judge in Miami transferred the case to Leon County at the request of the state. Yabor said he and attorney Kent Harrison Robbins, who tried to keep the case in Miami, are trying to get an emergency hearing.
But election-law attorney Juan-Carlos Planas believes that Rosen Gonzalez's lawsuit, filed 11 days after Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, has no shot after failing to secure a hearing by Friday's deadline.
He said even if Rosen Gonzalez gets a judge in Tallahassee to support her case, an automatic stay would be issued and the case would have to go to the First District Court of Appeal to be decided before the May 4 deadline to qualify for the congressional seat. That's a tight time line, and Planas said the Leon County courts will probably look unfavorably on the fact that she didn't secure a hearing by Friday's deadline.
"I don’t see any logical way that this lawsuit can succeed at this point simply on the procedure" he said. "I always assumed on the merits it would fail, but at this point, on the procedure, I don’t see any pathway."