What happens if Gov. Ron DeSantis leaves office to become president?

DeSantis gaining popularity among Republican candidates
Ron DeSantis
Posted at 2:35 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 17:11:40-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The next presidential election isn't until more than three years from now, but there are already rumblings about who will be the Republican nominee.

Given his enduring popularity, former President Donald Trump remains a top candidate to run for the country's top office again.

However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is gaining steam as a formidable challenger to make a run for the White House.

A straw poll taken last weekend at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver showed DeSantis' popularity is growing.

Attendees were asked to vote for all the potential candidates they approve of out of a 31-person field. The straw poll found that 74% of participants favored DeSantis with Trump receiving 71% of votes.

Other conservative candidates who received support included Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina.

DeSantis has already said he plans to run for a second term as Florida governor in 2022, but what happens if he leaves office before his term ends?

Each state's constitution has a method to fill vacancies in the office of the governor.

In the 45 states with a lieutenant governor, which includes Florida, that individual is the first in the line of succession.

Currently, Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, serves as the state's lieutenant governor, a post she has held since 2019.

Jeanette Nunez
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

Article IV, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution states the following:

Upon vacancy in the office of governor, the lieutenant governor shall become governor. Further succession to the office of governor shall be prescribed by law. A successor shall serve for the remainder of the term.

Theoretically, if DeSantis won another term as governor in 2022 and then won the presidency in 2024, Nunez would become the state's first female governor.

Nunez would become the state's first female governor and second person of Hispanic descent after Gov. Bob Martinez, who served from 1987-1991.

Of course, all of this would be a moot point if DeSantis was unable to win a second term as Florida governor next year.

He faces a stiff challenge from Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried as they seek to claim the state's top office for the Democrats.