Gov. Rick Scott will forego being sworn-in to the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3 so he can finish-out his term as governor before heading to Washington, D.C..
As the Capitolist first reported on November 28, Scott was considering a plan that would delay taking the oath of office in the U.S. Senate until January 8th, 2019, when he would hand over the governor’s office to the new governor, Ron DeSantis.
The Governor’s Office announced the decision Tuesday afternoon.
“When Governor Scott was elected Governor of Florida, he promised to fight for Florida families every single day of his term,” said John Tupps, Scott’s communications director. “Governor Scott will remain Governor until January 8th, 2019. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to hold the ceremony for Governor Scott’s swearing-in as U.S. Senator that afternoon.
Scott is one of seven new Republican senators elected in November. The 116th Congress is scheduled to begin on January 3rd, 2019, but the day is largely ceremonial, with new and returning senators being sworn in as a group by Vice-President Mike Pence.
Florida’s constitution prohibits state and local elections officials from holding two offices at the same time. In order for him to be sworn-in to the Senate with the other freshman members, Scott would have had to step-down as governor before his current terms expires. If that had happened, Lt Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera would have served as governor for five days until DeSantis took the oath of office.
The last time this scenario played out in Florida was 30 years ago when Gov. Bob Graham resigned early to take the oath as U.S. Senator. At noon on January 3rd, 1987, he resigned at noon to take the U.,S. Senate’s oath of office, and Lieutenant Governor Wayne Mixson became Florida’s 39th governor. Mixson, served three days before then Governor-elect Bob Martinez began his term.
Mixson’s three day tenure as governor earned him a gubernatorial portrait that hangs outside the Governor’s Office along with those of other governors.
Scott’s decision to serve out his term means there will be no gubernatorial portrait for current Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera.